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My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
My experiment with truth   autobiography of gandhijee
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My experiment with truth autobiography of gandhijee

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  1. M. K. Gandhi AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY ORThe story of my experiments with truthTRANSLATED FROM THE GUJARATI BY MAHADEV DESAI GANDHI BOOK CENTRE Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal 299, Tardeo Raod, Nana Chowk Bombay - 7 INDIA 3872061 email: info @ mkgandhi-sarvodaya.org www: mkgandhi-sarvodaya.org NAVAJIVAN PUBLISHING HOUSE AHMEDABAD-380014
  2. Chapter 1 BIRTH AND PARENTAGET he Gandhis belong to the Bania caste and seem to have been originally grocers. But for threegenerations, from my grandfather, they have been Prime Ministers in several Kathiawad States.Uttamchand Gandhi, alias Ota Gandhi, my grandfather, must have been a man of principle. Stateintrigues compelled him to leave Porbandar, where he was Diwan, and to seek refuge inJunagadh. There he saluted the Nawab with the left hand. Someone, noticing the apparentdiscourtesy, asked for an explanation, which was given thus: The right hand is already pledgedto Porbandar.Ota Gandhi married a second time, having lost his first wife. He had four sons by his first wife andtwo by his second wife. I do not think that in my childhood I ever felt or knew that these sons ofOta Gandhi were not all of the same mother. The fifth of these six brothers was KaramchandGandhi, alias Kaba Gandhi, and the sixth was Tulsidas Gandhi. Both these brothers were PrimeMinisters in Porbandar, one after the other. Kaba Gandhi was my father. He was a member of theRajasthanik Court. It is now extinct, but in those days it was a very influential body for settlingdisputes between the chiefs and their fellow clansmen. He was for some time Prime Minister inRajkot and then in Vankaner. He was a pensioner of the Rajkot State when he died.Kaba Gandhi married four times in succession, having lost his wife each time by death. He hadtwo daughters by his first and second marriages. His last wife, Putlibai, bore him a daughter andthree sons, I being the youngest.My father was a lover of his clan, truthful, brave and generous, but short-tempered. To a certainextent he might have been given to carnal pleasures. For he married for the fourth time when hewas over forty. But he was incorruptible and had earned a name for strict impartiality in his familyas well as outside. His loyalty to the state was well known. An Assistant Political Agent spokeinsultingly of the Rajkot Thakore Saheb, his chief, and he stood up to the insult. The Agent wasangry and asked Kaba Gandhi to apologize. This he refused to do and was therefore kept underdetention for a few hours. But when the Agent saw that Kaba Gandhi was adamant, he orderedhim to be released.My father never had any ambition to accumulate riches and left us very little property.He had no education, save that of experience. At best, he might be said to have read up to thefifth Gujarati standard. Of history and geography he was innocent. But his rich experience ofpractical affairs stood him in good stead in the solution of the most intricate questions and inmanaging hundreds of men. Of religious training he had very little, but he had that kind ofreligious culture which frequent visits to temples and listening to religious discourses makeavailable to many Hindus. In his last days he began reading the Gita at the instance of a learnedBrahman friend of the family, and he used to repeat aloud some verses every day at the time ofworship.The outstanding impression my mother has left on my memory is that of saintliness. She wasdeeply religious. She would not think of taking her meals without her daily prayers. Going toHaveli -the Vaishnava temple-was one of her daily duties. As far as my memory can go back, I donot remember her having ever missed the Chaturmas . She would take the hardest vows andkeep them without flinching. Illness was no excuse for relaxing them. I can recall her once fallingill when she was observing the Chandrayana vow, but the illness was not allowed to interrupt theobservance. To keep two or three consecutive fasts was nothing to her. Living on one meal a day
  3. during Chaturmas was a habit with her. Not content with that she fasted every alternate dayduring one Chaturmas . During another Chaturmas she vowed not to have food without seeingthe sun. We children on those days would stand, staring at the sky, waiting to announce theappearance of the sun to our mother. Everyone knows that at the height of the rainy season thesun often does not condescend to show his face. And I remember days when, at his suddenappearance, we would rush and announce it to her, She would run out to se with her own eyes,but by that time the fugitive sun would be gone, thus depriving her of her meal. "That does notmatter," she would say cheerfully, "God did not want me to eat today." And then she would returnto her round of duties.My mother had strong commonsense. She was well informed about all matters of state, andladies of the court thought highly of her intelligence. Often I would accompany her, exercising theprivilege of childhood, and I still remember many lively discussions she had with the widowedmother of the Thakore Saheb.Of these parents I was born at Porbandar, otherwise known as Sudamapuri, on the 2nd October,1869, I passed my childhood in Porbandar. I recollect having been put to school. It was with somedifficulty that I got through the multiplication tables. The fact that I recollect nothing more of thosedays than having learnt, in company with other boys, to call our teacher all kinds of names, wouldstrongly suggest that my intellect must have been sluggish, and my memory raw. Chapter 2 CHILDHOODI must have been about seven when my father left Porbandar for Rajkot to become a member ofthe Rajasthanik Court. There I was put into a primary school, and I can well recollect those days,including the names and other particulars of the teachers who taught me. As at Porbandar, sohere, there is hardly anything to note about my studies. I could only have been a mediocrestudent. From this school I went to the suburban school and thence to the high school, havingalready reached my twelfth year. I do not remember having ever told a lie, during this shortperiod, either to my teachers or to my school-mates, I used to be very shy and avoided allcompany. My books and my lessons were my sole companions. To be at school at the stroke ofthe hour and to run back home as soon as the school closed-that was my daily habit. I literally ranback, because I could not bear to talk to anybody. I was even afraid lest anyone should poke funat me.There is an incident which occurred at the examination during my first year at the high school andwhich is worth recording. Mr Giles, the educational Inspector, had come on a visit of inspection.He had set us five words to write as a spelling exercise. One of the words was Kettle. I had mis-spelt it. The teacher tried to prompt me with the point of his boot, but I would not be prompted. Itwas beyond me to see that he wanted me to copy the spelling from my neighbours slate, for Ihad thought that the teacher was there to supervise us against copying. The result was that allthe boys, except myself, were found to have spelt every word correctly. Only I had been stupid.The teacher tried later to bring this stupidity home to me. but without effect. I never could learnthe art of copying.Yet the incident did not in the least diminish my respect for my teacher. I was by nature, blind tothe faults of elders. Later I came to know of many other failings of this teacher, but my regard forhim remained the same. For I had learnt to carry out the orders of elders, not to scan theiractions.
  4. Two other incidents belonging to the same period have always clung to my memory. As a rule Ihad a distaste for any reading beyond my school books. The daily lessons had to be done,because I disliked being taken to task by my teacher as much as I disliked deceiving him.Therefore I would do the lessons, but often without my mind in them. Thus when even thelessons could not be done properly, there was of course no question of any extra reading. Butsomehow my eyes fell on a book purchased by my father. It was Shravana Pitribhakti Nataka (aplay about Sharavanas devotion to his parents). I read it with intense interest. There came to ourplace about the same time itinerant showmen. One of the pictures I was shown was of Shravanacarrying, by means of slings fitted for his shoulders, his blind parents on a pilgrimage. The bookand the picture left an indelible impression on my mind. Here is an example for you to copy, Isaid to myself. The agonized lament of the parents over Shravanas death is still fresh in mymemory. The melting tune moved me deeply, and I played it on a concertina which my father hadpurchased for me.There was a similar incident connected with another play. Just about this time, I had secured myfathers permission to see a play performed by a certain dramatic company. This play-Harishchandra- captured my heart. I could never be tired of seeing it. But how often should I bepermitted to go? It haunted me and I must have acted Harishchandra to myself times withoutnumber. Why should not all be truthful like Harishchandra? was the question I asked myself dayand night. To follow truth and to go through all the ordeals Harishchandra went through was theone ideal it inspired in me. I literally believed in the story of Harishchandra. The thought of it alloften made me weep. My commonsense tells me today that Harishchandra could not have beena historical character. Still both Harishchandra and Shravana are living realities for me, and I amsure I should be moved as before if I were to read those plays again today. Chapter 3 CHILD MARRIAGEMuch as I wish that I had not to write this chapter, I know that I shall have to swallow manysuch bitter draughts in the course of this narrative. And I cannot do otherwise, if I claim to be aworshipper of Truth. It is my painful duty to have to record here my marriage at the age ofthirteen. As I see the youngsters of the same age about me who are under my care, and think ofmy own marriage, I am inclined to pity myself and to congratulate them on having escaped my lot.I can see no moral argument in support of such a preposterously early marriage.Let the reader make no mistake. I was married, not betrothed. For in Kathiawad there are twodistinct rites, betrothal and marriage. Betrothal is a preliminary promise on the part of the parentsof the boy and the girl to join them in marriage, and it is not inviolable. The death of the boyentails no widowhood on the girl. It is an agreement purely between the parents, and the childrenhave no concern with it. Often they are not even informed of it. It appears that I was betrothedthrice, though without my knowledge. I was told that two girls chosen for me had died in turn, andtherefore I infer that I was betrothed three times. I have a faint recollection, however, that the thirdbetrothal took place in my seventh year. But I do not recollect having been informed about it. Inthe present chapter I am talking about my marriage, of which I have the clearest recollection.It will be remembered that we were three brothers. The first was already married. The eldersdecided to marry my second brother, who was two or three years my senior,a cousin, possibly a
  5. year older, and me, all at the same time. In doing so there was no thought of our welfare, muchless our wishes. It was purely a question of their own convenience and economy.Marriage among Hindus is no simple matter. The parents of the bride and the bridegroom oftenbring themselves to ruin over it. They waste their substance, they waste their time. Months aretaken up over the preparations in making clothes and ornaments and in preparing budgets fordinners. Each tries to outdo the other in the number and variety of courses to be prepared.Women, whether they have a voice or no, sing themselves hoarse, even get ill, and disturb thepeace of their neighbours. these in their turn quietly put up with all the turmoil and bustle all thedirt and filth, representing the remains of the feasts, because they know that a time will comewhen they also will be behaving in the same manner.It would be better, thought my elders, to have all this bother over at one and the same time. Lessexpense and greater eclat. For money could be freely spent if it had only to be spent once insteadof thrice. My father and my uncle were both old, and we were the last children they had to marry.it is likely that they wanted to have the last best time of their lives. In view of all theseconsiderations, a triple wedding was decided upon, and as I have said before, months were takenup in preparation for it.It was only through these preparations that we got warning of the coming event. I do not think itmeant to me anything more than the prospect of good clothes to wear, drum beating, marriageprocessions, rich dinners and a strange girl to play with. The carnal desire came later. I proposeto draw the curtain over my shame, except for a few details worth recording. To these I shallcome later. But even they have little to do with the central idea I have kept before me in writingthis story.So my brother and I were both taken to Porbandar from Rajkot. There are some amusing detailsof the preliminaries to the final drama e.g. smearing our bodies all over with turmeric paste but Imust omit them.My father was a Diwan, but nevertheless a servant, and all the more so because he was in favourwith the Thakore Saheb. The latter would not let him go until the last moment. And when he didso, he ordered for my father special stage coaches, reducing the journey by two days. But thefates had willed otherwise. Porbandar is 120 miles from Rajkot, a cart journey of five days. Myfather did the distance in three, but the coach toppled over in the third stage, and he sustainedsevere injuries. He arrived bandaged all over. Both his and our interest in the coming event washalf destroyed, but the ceremony had to be gone through. For how could the marriage dates bechanged? However, I forgot my grief over my fathers injuries in the childish amusement of thewedding.I was devoted to my parents. but no less was I devoted to the passions that flesh is heir to. I hadyet to learn that all happiness and pleasure should be sacrificed in devoted service to my parents.And yet, as though by way of punishment for my desire for pleasures, an incident happened,which has ever since rankled in my mind and which I will relate later. Nishkulanand sings:Renunciation of objects, without the renunciation of desires, is short-lived, however hard you maytry. Whenever I sing this song or hear it sung, this bitter untoward incident, rushes to my memoryand fills me with shame.My father put on a brave face in spite of his injuries, and took full part in the wedding. As I think ofit, I can even today call before my minds eye the places where he sat as he went through thedifferent details of the ceremony. Little did I dream then that one day I should severely criticize myfather for having married me as a child. Everything on that day seemed to me own right andproper and pleasing. There was also my own eagerness to get married. And as everything thatmy father did then struck me as beyond reproach, the recollection of those things is fresh in my
  6. memory. I can picture to myself, even today, how we sat on our wedding dais, how we performedthe Saptapadi how we, the newly wedded husband and wife, put the sweet Kansar into eachothers mouth, and how we began to live together. And oh! that first night.Two innocent childrenall unwittingly hurled themselves into the ocean of life. My brothers wife had thoroughly coachedme about my behaviour on the first night. I do not know who had coached my wife. I have neverasked her about it, nor am I inclined to do so now. The reader may be sure that we were toonervous to face each other. We were certainly too shy. How was I to talk to her, and what was I tosay? The coaching could not carry me far. But no coaching is really necessary in such matters.The impressions of the former birth are potent enough to make all coaching superfluous. Wegradually began to know each other, and to speak freely together. We were the same age. but Itook no time in assuming the authority of a husband. Chapter 4 PLAYING THE HUSBANDAbout the time of my marriage, little pamphlets costing a pice, or a pie (I now forget howmuch), used to be issued, in which conjugal love, thrift, child marriages, and other such subjectswere discussed. Whenever I came across any of these, I used to go through them cover to cover,and it was a habit with me to forget what I did not like, and to carry out in practice whatever Iliked. Lifelong faithfulness to the wife, inculcated in these booklets as the duty of the husband,remained permanently imprinted on my heart. Furthermore, the passion for truth was innate inme, and to be false to her was therefore out of the question. And then there was very little chanceof my being faithless at that tender age.But the lesson of faithfulness had also untoward effect. If I should be pledged to be faithful to mywife, she also should be pledged to be faithful to me, I said to myself. The thought made me ajealous husband. Her duty was easily converted into my right to exact faithfulness from her, and ifit had to be exacted, I should be watchfully tenacious of the right. I had absolutely no reason tosuspect my wifes fidelity, but jealousy does not wait for reasons. I must needs be for ever on thelook-out regarding her movements, and therefore she could not go anywhere without mypermission. This sowed the seeds of a bitter quarrel between us. The restraint was virtually a sortof imprisonment. And Kasturbai was not the girl to brook any such thing. She made it a point togo out whenever and wherever she liked. More restraint on my part resulted in more liberty beingtaken by her, and in my getting more and more cross. Refusal to speak to one another thusbecame the order of the day with us, married children. I think it was quite innocent of Kasturbai tohave taken those liberties with my restrictions. How could a guileless girl brook any restraint ongoing to the temple or on going on visits to friends? If I had the right to impose restrictions on her,had not she also a similar right? All this is clear to me today. But at that time I had to make goodmy authority as a husband!Let not the reader think, however, that ours was a life of unrelieved bitterness. For my severitieswere all based on love. I wanted to make my wife an ideal wife. My ambition was to make her livea pure life, learn what I learnt,and identify her life and thought with mine.I do not know whether Kasturbai had any such ambition. She was illiterate. By nature she wassimple, independent, persevering and, with me at least, reticent. She was not impatient of herignorance and I do not recollect my studies having ever spurred her to go in for a similaradventure. I fancy, therefore, that my ambition was all one- sided. My passion was entirely
  7. centred on one woman, and I wanted it to be reciprocated. But even if there were no reciprocity, itcould not be all unrelieved misery because there was active love on one side at least.I must say I was passionately fond of her. Even at school I used to think of her, and the thought ofnightfall and our subsequent meeting was ever haunting me. Separation was unbearable. I usedto keep her awake till late in the night with my idle talk. If with this devouring passion there hadnot been in me a burning attachment to duty, I should either have fallen a prey to disease andpremature death, or have sunk into a burdensome existence. But the appointed tasks had to begone through every morning, and lying to anyone was out of the question. It was this last thingthat saved me from many a pitfall.I have already said that Kasturbai was illiterate. I was very anxious to teach her, but lustful loveleft me no time. For one thing the teaching had to be done against her will, and that too at night. Idared not meet her in the presence of the elders, much less talk to her. Kathiawad had then, andto a certain extent has even today, its own peculiar, useless and barbarous Purdah.Circumstances were thus unfavourable. I must therefore confess that most of my efforts toinstruct Kasturbai in our youth were unsuccessful. And when I awoke from the sleep of lust, I hadalready launched forth into public life, which did not leave me much spare time. I failed likewise toinstruct her through private tutors. As a result Kasturbai can now with difficulty write simple lettersand understand simple Gujarati. I am sure that, had my love for her been absolutely untaintedwith lust, she would be a learned lady today; for I could than have conquered her dislike forstudies. I know that nothing is impossible for pure love.I have mentioned one circumstance that more or less saved me from the disasters of lustful love.There is another worth noting. Numerous examples have convinced me that God ultimately saveshim whose motive is pure. Along with the cruel custom of child marriages, Hindu society hasanother custom which to a certain extent diminishes the evils of the former. Parents do not allowyoung couples to stay long. The child-wife spends more than half her time at her fathers place.Such was the case with us. That is to say, during the first five years of our married life (from theage of 13 to 18), we could not have lived together longer than an aggregate period of three years.We would hardly have spent six months together, when there would be a call to my wife from herparents. Such calls were very unwelcome in those days, But they saved us both. At the age ofeighteen I went to England, and this meant a long and healthy spell of separation. Even after myreturn from England we hardly stayed together longer than six months. For I had to run up anddown between Rajkot and Bombay. Then came the call from South Africa, and that found mealready fairly free from the carnal appetite. Chapter 5 AT THE HIGH SCHOOLI have already said that I was learning at the high school when I was married. We three brotherswere learning at the same school. The eldest brother was in a much higher class, and the brotherwho was married at the same time as I was, only one class ahead of me. Marriage resulted inboth of us wasting a year. Indeed the result was oven worse for my brother, for he gave upstudies altogether. Heaven knows how many youths are in the same plight as he. Only in ourpresent Hindu society do studies and marriage go thus hand in hand.My studies were continued. I was not regarded as a dunce at the high school. I always enjoyedthe affection of my teachers. Certificates of progress and character used to be sent to the parents
  8. every year. I never had a bad certificate. In fact I even won prizes after I passed out of the secondstandard. In the fifth and sixth I obtained scholarships and rupees four and ten respectively, anachievement for which I have to thank good luck more than my merit. For the scholarships werenot open to all, but reserved for the best boys amongst those coming from the Sorath Division ofKathiawad. And in those days there could not have been many boys from Sorath in a class offorty to fifty.My own recollection is that I had not any high regard for my ability. I used to be astonishedwhenever I won prizes and scholarships. But I very jealously guarded my character. The leastlittle blemish drew tears from my eyes. When I merited, or seemed to the teacher to merit, arebuke, it was unbearable for me. I remember having once received corporal punishment. I didnot so much mind the punishment, as the fact that it was considered my desert. I wept piteously.That was when I was in the first or second standard. There was another such incident during thetime when I was in the seventh standard. Dorabji Edulji Gimi was the headmaster then. He waspopular among boys, as he was a disciplinarian, a man of method and a good teacher. He hadmade gymnastics and cricket compulsory for boys of the upper standards. I disliked both. I nevertook part in any exercise, cricket or football, before they were made compulsory. My shyness wasone of the reasons for this aloofness, which I now see was wrong. I then had the false notion thatgymnastics had nothing to do with education. Today I know that physical training should have asmuch place in the curriculum as mental training.I may mention, however, that I was none the worse for abstaining from exercise. That wasbecause I had read in books about the benefits of long walks in the open air, and having liked theadvice, I had formed a habit of taking walks, which has still remained with me. These walks gaveme a fairly hardy constitution.The reason of my dislike for gymnastics was my keen desire to serve as nurse to my father. Assoon as the school closed, I would hurry home and begin serving him. Compulsory exercisecame directly in the way of this service. I requested Mr. Gimi to exempt me from gymnastics sothat I might be free to serve my father. But he would not listen to me. Now it so happened thatone Saturday, when we had school in the morning, I had to go from home to the school forgymnastics at 4 oclock in the afternoon. I had no watch, and the clouds deceived me. Before Ireached the school the boys had all left. The next day Mr. Gimi, examining the roll, found memarked absent. Being asked the reason for absence, I told him what had happened. He refusedto believe me and ordered me to pay a fine of one or two annas (I cannot now recall how much).I was convicted of lying ! That deeply pained me. How was I to prove my innocence? There wasno way. I cried in deep anguish. I saw that a man of truth must also be a man of care. This wasthe first and last instance of my carelessness in school. I have a faint recollection that I finallysucceeded in getting the fine remitted. The exemption from exercise was of course obtained, asmy father wrote himself to the headmaster saying that he wanted me at home after school.But though I was none the worse for having neglected exercise, I am still paying the penalty ofanother neglect, I do not know whence I got the notion that good handwriting was not anecessary part of education, but I retained it until I went to England. When later, especially inSouth Africa, I saw the beautiful handwriting of lawyers and young men born and educated inSouth Africa, I was ashamed of myself and repented of my neglect. I saw that bad handwritingshould be regarded as a sign of an imperfect education. I tried later to improve mine, but it wastoo late. I could never repair the neglect of my youth. Let every young man and woman bewarned by my example, and understand that good handwriting is a necessary part of education. Iam now of opinion that children should first be taught the art of drawing before learning how towrite. Let the child learn his letters by observation as he does different objects, such as flowers,birds, etc., and let him learn handwriting only after he has learnt to draw objects. He will thenwrite a beautifully formed hand.
  9. Two more reminiscences of my school days are worth recording. I had lost one year because ofmy marriage, and the teacher wanted me to make good the loss by skipping a class a privilegeusually allowed to industrious boys. I therefore had only six months in the third standard and wasprompted to he forth after the examinations which are followed by the summer vacation. Englishbecame the medium of instruction in most subjects from the fourth standard. I found myselfcompletely at sea. Geometry was a new subject in which I was not particularly strong, and theEnglish medium made it still more difficult for me. The teacher taught the subject very well, but Icould not follow him. Often I would lose heart and think of going back to the third standard, feelingthat the packing of two years studies into a single year was too ambitious. But this woulddiscredit not only me, but also the teacher; because, counting on my industry, he hadrecommended my promotion. So the fear of the double discredit kept me at my post. Whenhowever, with much effort I reached the thirteenth proposition of Euclid, the utter simplicity of thesubject was suddenly revealed to me. A subject which only required a pure and simple use ofones reasoning powers could not be difficult. Ever since that time geometry has been both easyand interesting for me.Samskrit, however, proved a harder task. In geometry there was nothing to memorize, whereas inSamskrit, I thought, everything had to be learnt by heart. This subject also was commenced fromthe fourth standard. As soon as I entered the sixth I became disheartened. The teacher was ahard taskmaster, anxious, as I thought, to force the boys. There was a sort of rivalry going onbetween the Samskrit and the Persian teachers. The Persian teacher was lenient. The boys usedto talk among themselves that Persian was very easy and the Persian teacher very good andconsiderate to the students. The easiness tempted me and one day I sat in the Persian class.The Samskrit teacher was grieved. He called me to his side and said: How can you forget thatyou are the son of a Vaishnava father? Wont you learn the language of your own religion? If youhave any difficulty, why not come to me? I want to teach you students Samskrit to the best of myability. As you proceed further, you will find in it things of absorbing interest. You should not loseheart. Come and sit again in the Samskrit class.This kindness put me to shame. I could not disregard my teachers affection. Today I cannot butthink with gratitude of Krishnashankar Pandya. For if I had not acquired the little Samskrit that Ihad learnt then, I should have found it difficult to take any interest in our sacred books. In fact Ideeply regret that I was not able to acquire a more thorough knowledge of the language, becauseI have since realized that every Hindu boy and girl should possess sound Samskrit learning.It is now my opinion that in all Indian curricula of higher education there should be a place forHindi, Samskrit, Persian, Arabic and English, besides of course the vernacular. This big list neednot frighten anyone. If our education were more systematic, and the boys free from the burden ofhaving to learn their subjects through a foreign medium, I am sure learning all these languageswould not be an irksome task. but a perfect pleasure. A scientific knowledge of one languagemakes a knowledge of other languages comparatively easy.In reality, Hindi, Gujarati and Samskrit may be regarded as one language, and Persian andArabic also as one. Though Persian belongs to the Aryan, and Arabic to the Semitic family oflanguages, there is a close relationship between Persian and Arabic, because both claim their fullgrowth through the rise of Islam. Urdu I have not regarded as a distinct language, because it hasadopted the Hindi grammar and its vocabulary is mainly Persian and Arabic, and he who wouldlearn good Urdu must learn Persian and Arabic, as one who would learn good Gujarati, Hindi,Bengali, or Marathi must learn Samskrit.
  10. Chapter 6 A TRAGEDYAmongst my few friends at the high school I had, at different times, two who might be calledintimate. One of these friendships did not last long, though I never forsook my friend. He forsookme, because I made friends with the other. This latter friendship I regard as a tragedy in my life. Itlasted long. I formed it in spirit of a reformer.This companion was originally my elder brothers friend. They were classmates. I knew hisweaknesses, but I regarded him as a faithful friend. My mother, my eldest brother, and my wifewarned me that I was in bad company. I was too proud to heed my wifes warning. But I dared notgo against the opinion of my mother and my eldest brother. Nevertheless I pleaded with themsaying, I know he has the weaknesses you attribute to him, but you do not know his virtues. Hecannot lead me astray, as my association with him is meant to reform him. For I am sure that if hereforms his ways, he will be a splendid man. I beg you not to be anxious on my account.I do not think this satisfied them, but they accepted my explanation and let me go my way.I have seen since that I had calculated wrongly. A reformer cannot afford to have close intimacywith him whom he seeks to reform. True friendship is an identity of souls rarely to be found in thisworld. Only between like natures can friendship be altogether worthy and enduring. Friends reacton one another. Hence in friendship there is very little scope for reform. I am of opinion that allexclusive intimacies are to be avoided; for man takes in vice far more readily than virtue. And hewho would be friends with God must remain alone, or make the whole world his friend. I may bewrong, but my effort to cultivate an intimate friendship proved a failure.A wave of reform was sweeping over Rajkot at the time when I first came across this friend. Heinformed me that many of our teachers were secretly taking meat and wine. He also named manywell-known people of Rajkot as belonging to the same company. There were also, I was told,some high-school boys among them.I was surprised and pained. I asked my friend the reason and he explained it thus: We are aweak people because we do not eat meat. The English are able to rule over us, because they aremeat-eaters. You know how hardy I am, and how great a runner too. It is because I am a meat-eater. Meat-eaters do not have boils or tumours, and even if they sometimes happen to have any,these heal quickly. Our teachers and other distinguished people who eat meat are no fools. Theyknow its virtues. You should do likewise. There is nothing like trying. Try, and see what strength itgives.All these pleas on behalf of meat-eating were not advanced at a single sitting. They represent thesubstance of a long and elaborate argument which my friend was trying to impress upon me fromtime to time. My elder brother had already fallen. He therefore supported my friends argument. Icertainly looked feeble-bodied by the side of my brother and this friend. They were both hardier,physically stronger, and more daring. This friends exploits cast a spell over me. He could runlong distances and extraordinarily fast. He was an adept in high and long jumping. He could putup with any amount of corporal punishment. He would often display his exploits to me and, asone is always dazzled when he sees in others the qualities that he lacks himself, I was dazzled bythis friends exploits. This was followed by a strong desire to be like him. I could hardly jump orrun. Why should not I also be as strong as he?
  11. Moreover, I was a coward. I used to be haunted by the fear of thieves, ghosts, and serpents. I didnot dare to stir out of doors at night. Darkness was a terror to me. It was almost impossible for meto sleep in the dark, as I would imagine ghosts coming from one direction, thieves from anotherand serpents from a third. I could not therefore bear to sleep without a light in the room. Howcould I disclose my fears to my wife, no child, but already at the threshold of youth, sleeping bymy side? I knew that she had more courage than I, and I felt ashamed of myself. She knew nofear of serpents and ghosts. She could go out anywhere in the dark. My friend knew all theseweaknesses of mine. He would tell me that he could hold in his hand live serpents, could defythieves and did not believe in ghosts. And all this was, of course, the result of eating meat.A doggerel of the Gujarati poet Narmad was in vogue amongst us schoolboys, as follows: Beholdthe mighty Englishman He rules the Indian small, Because being a meat-eater He is five cubitstall.All this had its due effect on me. I was beaten. It began to grow on me that meat-eating wasgood, that it would make me strong and daring, and that, if the whole county took to meat-eating,the English could be overcome.A day was thereupon fixed for beginning the experiment. It had to be conducted in secret. TheGandhis were Vaishnavas. My parents were particularly staunch Vaishnavas. They wouldregularly visit the Haveli. The family had even its own temples. Jainism was strong in Gujarat, andits influence was felt everywhere and on all occasions. The opposition to and abhorrence of meat-eating that existed in Gujarat among the Jains and Vaishnavas were to be seen nowhere else inIndia or outside in such strength. These were the traditions in which I was born and bred. And Iwas extremely devoted to my parents. I knew that the moment they came to know of my havingeaten meat, they would be shocked to death. Moreover, my love of truth made me extra cautious.I cannot say that I did not know then that I should have to deceive my parents if I began eatingmeat. But my mind was bent on the reform. It was not a question of pleasing the palate. I did notknow that it had a particularly good relish. I wished to be strong and daring and wanted mycountrymen also to be such, so that we might defeat the English and make India free. The wordSwaraj I had not yet heard. But I knew what freedom meant. The frenzy of the reform blindedme. And having ensured secrecy, I persuaded myself that mere hiding the deed from parents wasno departure from truth. Chapter 7 A TRAGEDY (contd.)So the day came. It is difficult fully to describe my condition. There were, on the one hand, thezeal for reform, and the novelty of making a momentous departure in life. There was, on theother, the shame of hiding like a thief to do this very thing. I cannot say which of the two swayedme more. We went in search of a lonely spot by the river, and there I saw, for the first time in mylife - meat. There was bakers bread also. I relished neither. The goats meat was as tough asleather. I simply could not eat it. I was sick and had to leave off eating.I had a very bad night afterwards. A horrible night-mare haunted me. Every time I dropped off tosleep it would seem as though a live goat were bleating inside me, and I would jump up full ofremorse. But then I would remind myself that meat-eating was a duty and so become morecheerful.
  12. My friend was not a man to give in easily. He now began to cook various delicacies with meat,and dress them neatly. And for dining, no longer was the secluded spot on the river chosen, but aState house, with its dining hall, and tables and chairs, about which my friend had madearrangements in collusion with the chief cook there.This bait had its effect. I got over my dislike for bread, forswore my compassion for the goats, andbecame a relisher of meat-dishes, if not of meat itself. This went on for about a year. But notmore than half a dozen meat-feasts were enjoyed in all; because the State house was notavailable every day, and there was the obvious difficulty about frequently preparing expensivesavoury meat-dishes. I had no money to pay for this reform. My friend had therefore always tofind the wherewithal. I had no knowledge where he found it. But find it he did, because he wasbent on turning me into a meat-eater. But even his means must have been limited, and hencethese feasts had necessarily to be few and far between.Whenever I had occasion to indulge in these surreptitious feasts, dinner at home was out of thequestion. My mother would naturally ask me to come and take my food and want to know thereason why I did not wish to eat. I would say to her, I have no appetite today; there is somethingwrong with my digestion. It was not without compunction that I devised these pretexts. I knew Iwas lying, and lying to my mother. I also knew that, if my mother and father came to know of myhaving become a meat-eater, they would be deeply shocked. This knowledge was gnawing at myheart.Therefore I said to myself: Though it is essential to eat meat, and also essential to take up foodreform in the country, yet deceiving and lying to ones father and mother is worse than not eatingmeat. In their lifetime, therefore, meat-eating must be out of the question. When they are no moreand I have found my freedom, I will eat meat openly, but until that moment arrives I will abstainfrom it.This decision I communicated to my friend, and I have never since gone back to meat. Myparents never knew that two of their sons had become meat-eaters.I abjured meat out of the purity of my desire not to lie to my parents, but I did not abjure thecompany of my friend. My zeal for reforming him had proved disastrous for me, and all the time Iwas completely unconscious of the fact.The same company would have led me into faithlessness to my wife. But I was saved by the skinof my teeth. My friend once took me to a brothel. He sent me in with the necessary instructions. Itwas all prearranged. The bill had already been paid. I went into the jaws of sin, but God in Hisinfinite mercy protected me against myself. I was almost struck blind and dumb in this den of vice.I sat near the woman on her bed, but I was tongue-tied. She naturally lost patience with me, andshowed me the door, with abuses and insults. I then felt as though my manhood had beeninjured, and wished to sink into the ground for shame. But I have ever since given thanks to Godfor having saved me. I can recall four more similar incidents in my life, and in most of them mygood fortune, rather than any effort on my part, saved me. From a strictly ethical point of view, allthese occasions must be regarded as moral lapses; for the carnal desire was there, and it was asgood as the act. But from the ordinary point of view, a man who is saved from physicallycommitting sin is regarded as saved. And I was saved only in that sense. There are some actionsfrom which an escape is a godsend both for the man who escapes and for those about him. Man,as soon as he gets back his consciousness of right, is thankful to the Divine mercy for theescape. As we know that a man often succumbs to temptation, however much he say resist it, wealso know that Providence often intercedes and saves him in spite of himself. How all thishappens,- how far a man is free and how far a creature of carcumstances,- how far free-willcomes into play and where fate enters on the scene, all this is a mystery and will remain amystery.
  13. But to go on with the story. Even this was far from opening my eyes to the viciousness of myfriends company. I therefore had many more bitter draughts in store for me, until my eyes wereactually opened by an ocular demonstration of some of his lapses quite unexpected by me. But ofthem later, as we are proceeding chronologically.One thing, however, I must mention now, as it pertains to the same period. One of the reasons ofmy differences with my wife was undoubtedly the company of this friend. I was both a devotedand a jealous husband, and this friend fanned the flame of my suspicions about my wife. I nevercould doubt his veracity. And I have never forgiven myself the violence of which I have beenguilty in often having pained my wife by acting on his information. Perhaps only a Hindu wifewould tolerate these hardships, and that is why I have regarded woman as an incarnation oftolerance. A servant wrongly suspected may throw up his job, a son in the same case may leavehis fathers roof, and a friend may put an end to the friendship. The wife, if she suspects herhusband, will keep quiet, but if the husband suspects her, she is ruined. Where is she to go? AHindu wife may not seek divorce in a law-court. Law has no remedy for her. And I can neverforget or forgive myself for a having driven my wife to that desperation.The canker of suspicion was rooted out only when I understood Ahimsa in all its bearings. I sawthen the glory of Brahmacharya and realized that the wife is not the husbands bondslave, but hiscompanion and his help-mate, and an equal partner in all his joy and sorrows - as free as thehusband to choose her own path. Whenever I think of those dark days of doubts and suspicions. Iam filled with loathing of my folly and my lustful cruelty, and I deplore my blind devotion to myfriend. Chapter 8 STEALING AND ATONEMENTI have still to relate some of my failings during this meat-eating period and also previous to it,which date from before my marriage or soon after.A relative and I became fond of smoking. Not that we saw any good in smoking, or wereenamoured of the smell of a cigarette. We simply imagined a sort of pleasure in emitting clouds ofsmoke from our mouths. My uncle had the habit, and when we saw him smoking, we thought weshould copy his example. But we had no money. So we began pilfering stumps of cigarettesthrown away by my uncle.The stumps, however, were not always available, and could not emit much smoke either. So webegan to steal coppers from the servants pocket money in order to purchase Indian cigarettes.But the question was where to keep them. We could not of course smoke in the presence ofelders. We managed somehow for a few weeks on these stolen coppers. In the meantime weheard that the stalks of a certain plant were porous and could be smoked like cigarettes. We gotthem and began this kind of smoking.But we were far from being satisfied with such things as these. Our want of independence beganto smart, It was unbearable that we should be unable to do anything without the elderspermission. At last, in sheer disgust, we decided to commit suicide!But how were we to do it? From where were we to get the poison? We heard that Dhatura seedswere an effective poison. Off we went to the jungle in search of these seeds, and got them.
  14. Evening was thought to be the auspicious hour. We went to Kedarji Mandir , put ghee in thetemple-lamp, had the Darshan and then looked for a lonely corner. But our courage failed us.Supposing we were not instantly killed? And what was the good of killing ourselves? Why notrather put up with the lack of independence? But we swallowed two or three seeds nevertheless.We dared not take more. Both of us fought shy of death, and decided to go to Ramji Mandir tocompose ourselves, and to dismiss the thought of suicide.I realized that it was not as easy to commit suicide as to contemplate it. And since then,whenever I have heard of someone threatening to commit suicide, it has had little or on effect onme.The thought of suicide ultimately resulted in both of us bidding good- bye to the habit of smokingstumps of cigarettes and of stealing the servants coppers for the purpose of smoking.Ever since I have been grown up, I have never desired to smoke and have always regarded thehabit of smoking as barbarous, dirty and harmful. I have never understood why there is such arage for smoking throughout the world. I cannot bear to travel in a compartment full of peoplesmoking. I become choked.But much more serious than this theft was the one I was guilty of a little later. I pilfered thecoppers when I was twelve or thirteen, possibly less. The other theft was committed when I wasfifteen. In this case I stole a bit of gold out of my meat-eating brothers armlet. This brother hadrun into a debt of about twenty-five rupees. He had on his arm an armlet of solid gold. It was notdifficult to clip a bit out of it.Well, it was done, and the debt cleared. But this became more than I could bear. I resolved neverto steal again. I also made up my mind to confess it to my father. But I did not dare to speak. Notthat I was afraid of my father beating me. No I do not recall his ever having beaten any of us. Iwas afraid of the pain that I should cause him. But I felt that the risk should be taken; that therecould not be a cleaning without a clean confession.I decided at last to write out the confession, to submit it to my father, and ask his forgiveness. Iwrote it on a slip of paper and handed it to him myself. In this note not only did I confess my guilt,but I asked adequate punishment for it, and closed with a request to him not to punish himself formy offence. I also pledged myself never to steal in future.I was trembling as I handed the confession to my father. He was then suffering from a fistula andwas confined to bed. His bed was a plain wooden plank. I handed him the note and sat oppositethe plank.He read it through, and pearl-drops trickled down his cheeks, wetting the paper. For a moment heclosed his eyes in thought and then tore up the note. He had sat up to read it. He again lay down.I also cried. I could see my fathers agony. If I were a painter I could draw a picture of the wholescene today. It is still so vivid in my mind.Those pearl-drops of love cleansed my heart, and washed my sin away. Only he who hasexperienced such love can know what it is. As the hymn says: Only he Who is smitten with thearrows of love. Knows its power.This was, for me, an object-lesson in Ahimsa. Then I could read in it nothing more than a fatherslove, but today I know that it was pure Ahimsa. When such Ahimsa becomes all-embracing ittransforms everything it touches. There is no limit to its power.
  15. This sort of sublime forgiveness was not natural to my father. I had thought that he would beangry, say hard things, and strike his forehead. But he was so wonderfully peaceful, and I believethis was due to my clean confession. A clean confession, combined with a promise never tocommit the sin again, when offered before one who has the right to receive it, is the purest type ofrepentance. I know that my confession made my father feel absolutely safe about me, andincreased his affection for me beyond measure. Chapter 9 MY FATHERS DEATH AND MY DOUBLE SHAMET he time of which I am now speaking is my sixteenth year. My father, as we have seen, wasbed-ridden, suffering from a fistula. My mother, an old servant of the house, and I were hisprincipal attendants. I had the duties of a nurse, which mainly consisted in dressing the wound.giving my father his medicine, and compounding drugs whenever they had to be made up athome, Every night I massaged his legs and retired only when he asked me to do so or after hehad fallen asleep. I loved to do this service. I do not remember ever having neglected it. All thetime at my disposal, after the performance of the daily duties, was divided between school andattending on my father. I would only go out for an evening walk either when he permitted me orwhen he was feeling well.This was also the time when my wife was expecting a baby,- a circumstance which, as I can seetoday, meant a double shame for me. For one thing I did not restrain myself, as I should havedone, whilst I was yet a student. And secondly, this carnal lust got the better of what I regardedas my duty to my parents, Shravana having been my ideal since childhood. Every night whilst myhands were busy massaging my fathers legs, my mind was hovering about the bed-room,- andthat too at a time when religion, medical science and commonsense alike forbade sexualintercourse. I was always glad to be relieved from my duty, and went straight to the bed-roomafter doing obeisance to my father.At the same time my father was getting worse every day. Ayurvedic physicians had tied all theirointments, Hakims their plasters, and local quacks their nostrums. An English surgeon had alsoused his skill. As the last and only resort he had recommended a surgical operation. But thefamily physician came in the way. He disapproved of an operation being performed at such anadvanced age. The physician was competent and well-known, and his advice prevailed. Theoperation was abandoned, and various medicines purchased for the purpose were of no account.I have an impression that, if the physician had allowed the operation, the wound would have beeneasily healed. The operation also was to have been performed by a surgeon who was then wellknown in Bombay. But God had willed otherwise. When death is imminent, who can think of theright remedy? My father returned from Bombay with all the paraphernalia of the operation, whichwere now useless. He despaired of living any longer, He was getting weaker and weaker, until atlast he had to be asked to perform the necessary functions in bed. But up to the last he refused todo anything of the kind, always insisting on going through the strain of leaving his bed. TheVaishnavite rules about external cleanliness are so inexorable.Such cleanliness is quite essential no doubt, but Western medical science had taught us that allthe functions, including a bath, can be done in bed with the strictest regard to cleanliness, andwithout the slightest discomfort to the patient, the bed always remaining spotlessly clean. I shouldregard such cleanliness as quite consistent with Vaishnavism. But my fathers insistence onleaving the bed only struck me with wonder then, and I had nothing but admiration for it.
  16. The dreadful night came. My uncle was then in Rajkot. I have a faint recollection that he came toRajkot having had news that my father was getting worse. The brothers were deeply attached toeach other. My uncle would sit near my fathers bed the whole day, and would insist on sleepingby his bed-side after sending us all to sleep. No one had dreamt that this was to be the fatefulnight. The danger of course was there.It was 10-30 or 11 p.m. I was giving the massage. My uncle offered to relieve me. I was glad andwent straight to the bed-room. My wife, poor thing, was fast asleep. But how could she sleepwhen I was there? I woke her up. In five or six minutes. however, the servant knocked at thedoor. I started with alarm. Get up, he said, Father is very ill. I knew of course that he was veryill, and so I guessed what very ill meant at that moment. I sprang out of bed. What is the matter?Do tell me! Father is no more. So all was over! I had but to wring my hands. I felt deeplyashamed and miserable. I ran to my fathers room. I saw that, if animal passion had not blindedme. I should have been spared the torture of separation from my father during his last moments. Ishould have been massaging him, and he would have died in my arms. But now it was my unclewho had this privilege. He was so deeply devoted to his elder brother that he had earned thehonour of doing him the last services! My father had forebodings of the coming event. He hadmade a sign for pen and paper, and written: Prepare for the last rites. He had then snapped theamulet off his arm and also his gold necklace of tulasi beads and flung them aside. A momentafter this he was no more.The shame, to which I have refered in a foregoing chapter, was this of my carnal desire even atthe critical hour of my fathers death, which demanded wakeful service. It is a blot I have neverbeen able to efface or forget, and I have always thought that, although my devotion to my parentsknew no bounds and I would have given up anything for it, yet I was weighed and foundunpardonably wanting because my mind was at the same moment in the grip of lust. I havetherefore always regarded myself as a lustful. though a faithful, husband. It took me long to getfree from the shackles of lust, and I had to pass through many ordeals before I could overcome it.Before I close this chapter of my double shame. I may mention that the poor mite that was born tomy wife scarcely breathed for more than three or four days. Nothing else could be expected. Letall those who are married be warned by my example. Chapter 10 GLIMPSES OF RELIGIONFrom my sixth or seventh year up to my sixteenth I was at school, being taught all sorts ofthings except religion. I may say that I failed to get from the teachers what they could have givenme without any effort on their part. And yet I kept on picking up things here and there from mysurroundings. The term religion I am using in its broadest sense, meaning thereby self-realization or knowledge of self.Being born in the Vaishnava faith, I has often to go to the Haveli. But it never appealed to me. Idid not like its glitter and pomp. Also I heard rumours of immorality being practised there, and lostall interest in it. Hence I could gain nothing from the Haveli.But what I failed to get there I obtained from my nurse, an old servant of the family, whoseaffection for me I still recall. I have said before that there was in me a fear of ghosts and spirits.Rambha, for that was her name, suggested, as a remedy for this fear, the repetition of
  17. Ramanama. I had more faith in her than in her remedy, and so at a tender age I began repeatingRamanama to cure my fear of ghosts and spirits. This was of course short-lived, but the goodseed sown in childhood was not sown in vain. I think it is due to the seed by that good womanRambha that today Ramanama is an infallible remedy for me.Just about this time, a cousin of mine who was a devotee of the Ramayana arranged for mysecond brother and me to learn Ram Raksha. We got it by heart, and made it a rule to recite itevery morning after the bath. The practice was kept up as long as we were in Porbandar. As soonas we reached Rajkot, it was forgotten. For I had not much belief in it. I recited it partly because ofmy pride in being able to recite Ram Raksha with correct pronunciation.What, however, left a deep impression on me was the reading of the Ramayana before my father.During part of his illness my father was in Porbandar. There every evening he used to listen to theRamayana. The reader was a great devotee of Rama,- Ladha Maharaj of Bileshvar. It was said ofhim that he cured himself of his leprosy not by any medicine, but by applying to the affected partsbilva leaves which had been cast away after being offered to the image of Mahadeva in Bileshvartemple, and by the regular repetition of Ramanama. His faith it, it was said, had made him whole.This may or may not be true. We at any rate believed the story. And it is a fact that when LadhaMaharaj began his reading of the Ramayana his body was entirely free from leprosy. He had amelodious voice. He would sing the Dohas (couplets) and Chopais (quatrains), and explain them,losing himself in the discourse and carrying his listeners along with him. I must have been thirteenat that time, but I quite remember being enraptured by his reading. That laid the foundation of mydeep devotion to the Ramayana. Today I regard the Ramayana of Tulasidas as the greatest bookin all devotional literature.A few months after this we came to Rajkot. There was no Ramayana reading there. TheBhagavat, however, used to be read on every Ekadashi day. Sometimes I attended the reading,but the reciter was uninspiring. Today I see that the Bhagavat is a book which can evoke religiousfervour. I have read it in Gujarati with intense interest. But when I heard portions of the originalread by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya during my twentyone days fast, I wished I had heard it inmy childhood from such a devote as he is, so that I could have formed a liking for it at an earlyage. Impressions formed at that age strike roots deep down into ones nature and it is myperpetual regret that I was not fortunate enough to hear more good books of this kind read duringthat period.In Rajkot, however, I got an early grounding in toleration for all branches of Hinduism and sisterreligions. For my father and mother would visit the Haveli as also Shivas and Ramas temples,and would take or send us youngsters there. Jain monks also would pay frequent visits to myfather, and would even go out of their way to accept food from us non-Jains. They would havetalks with my father on subjects religious and mundane.He had, besides, Musalman and Parsi friends, who would talk to him about their own faiths, andhe would listen to them always with respect, and often with interest. Being his nurse, I often had achance to be present at these talks. These many things combined to inculcate in me a tolerationfor all faiths.Only Christianity was at the time an exception. I developed a sort of dislike for it. And for areason. In those days Christian missionaries used to stand in a corner near the high school andhold forth, pouring abuse on Hindus and their gods. I could not endure this. I must have stoodthere to hear them once only, but that was enough to dissuade me from repeating theexperiment. About the same time, I heard of a well known Hindu having been converted toChristianity. It was the talk of the town that, when he was baptized, he had to eat beef and drinkliquor, that he also had to change his clothes, and that thenceforth he began to go about inEuropean costume including a hat. These things got on my nerves. Surely, thought I, a religionthat compelled one to eat beef, drink liquor, and change ones own clothes did not deserve the
  18. name. I also heard that the new convert had already begun abusing the religion of his ancestors,their customs and their country. All these things created in me a dislike for Christianity.But the fact that I had learnt to be tolerant to other religions did not mean that I had any living faithin God. I happened, about this time, to come across Manusmriti which was amongst my fatherscollection. The story of the creation and similar things in it did not impress me very much, but onthe contrary made me incline somewhat towards atheism.There was a cousin of mine, still alive, for whose intellect I had great regard. To him I turned withmy doubts. But he could not resolve them. He sent me away with this answer: When you growup, you will be able to solve these doubts yourself. These questions ought not to be raised at yourage. I was silenced, but was not comforted. Chapters about diet and the like in Manusmritiseemed to me to run contrary to daily practice. To my doubts as to this also, I got the sameanswer.With intellect more developed and with more reading I shall understand it better, I said tomyself.Manusmriti at any rate did not then teach me ahimsa. I have told the story of my meat-eating.Manusmriti seemed to support it. I also felt that it was quite moral to kill serpents, bugs and thelike. I remember to have killed at that age bugs and such other insects, regarding it as a duty.But one thing took deep root in me the conviction that morality is the basis of things, and that truthis the substance of all morality. Truth became my sole objective. It began to grow in magnitudeevery day, and my definition of it also has been ever widening. A Gujarati didactic stanza likewisegripped my mind and heart. Its Precept-return good for evil-became my guiding principle. Itbecame such a passion with me that I began numerous experiments in it. Here are those (for me)wonderful lines: For a bowl of water give a goodly meal: For a kindly greeting bow thou down withzeal: For a simple penny pay thou back with gold: If thy life be rescued, life do not withhold. Thusthe words and actions of the wise regard; Every little service tenfold they reward. But the trulynoble know all men as one, And return with gladness good for evil done. Chapter 11 PREPARATION FOR ENGLANDI passed the matriculation examination in 1887. It then used to be held at two centres,Ahmedabad and Bombay. The general poverty of the country naturally led Kathiawad students toprefer the nearer and the cheaper centre. The poverty of my family likewise dictated to me thesame choice. This was my first journey from Rajkot to Ahmedabad and that too without acompanion.My elders wanted me to pursue my studies at college after the matriculation. There was a collegein Bhavnagar as well as in Bombay, and as the former was cheaper, I decided to go there andjoin the Samaldas College. I went, but found myself entirely at sea. Everything was difficult. Icould not follow, let alone taking interest in, the professors lectures. It was no fault of theirs. Theprofessors in that College were regarded as first-rate. But I was so raw. At the end of the firstterm, I returned home.We had in Mavji Dave, who was a shrewd and learned Brahman an old friend and adviser of thefamily. He had kept up his connection with the family even after my fathers death. He happened
  19. to visit us during my vacation. In conversation with my mother and elder brother, he inquiredabout my studies. Learning that I was at Samaldas College, he said: The times are changed. Andnone of you can expect to succeed to your fathers gadi without having a proper education. Nowas this boy is still pursuing his studies, you should all look to him to keep the gadi. It will take himfour or five years to get his B.A. degree, which will at best qualify him for a sixty rupees post, notfor a Diwanship. If like my son he went in for law, it would take him still longer, by which timethere would be a host of lawyers aspiring for a Diwans post. I would far rather that you sent himto England. My son Kevalram says it is very easy to become a barrister. In three years time hewill return. Also expenses will not exceed four to five thousand rupees. Think of that barrister whohas just come back from England. How stylishly he lives! He could get the Diwanship for theasking. I would strongly advise you to send Mohandas to England this very year. Kevalram hasnumerous friends in England. He will give notes of introduction to them, and Mohandas will havean easy time of it there.Joshiji that is how we used to call old Mavji Dave turned to me with complete assurance, andasked: Would you not rather go to England than study here? Nothing could have been morewelcome to me. I was fighting shy of my difficult studies. So I jumped at the proposal and saidthat the sooner I was sent the better. It was no easy business to pass examinations quickly.Could I not be sent to qualify for the medical profession?My brother interrupted me: Father never liked it. He had you in mind when he said that weVaishnavas should have nothing to do with dissection of dead bodies. Father intended you for thebar.Joshiji chimed in : I am not opposed to the medical profession as was Gandhiji. Our Shastras arenot against it. But a medical degree will not make a Diwan of you, and I want you to be Diwan, orif possible something better. Only in that way could you take under your protecting care yourlarge family. The times are fast changing and getting harder every day. It is the wisest thingtherefore to become a barrister. Turning to my mother he said : Now, I must leave. Pray ponderover what I have said. When I come here next I shall expect to hear of preparations for England.Be sure to let me know if I can assist in any way.Joshiji went away, and I began building castles in the air.My elder brother was greatly exercised in his mind. How was he to find the wherewithal to sendme? And was it proper to trust a young man like me to go abroad alone?My mother was sorely perplexed. She did not like the idea of parting with me. This is how shetried to put me off: Uncle, she said, is now the eldest member of the family. He should first beconsulted. If he consents we will consider the matter.My brother had another idea. He said to me: We have a certain claim on the Porbandar State.Mr. Lely is the Administrator. He thinks highly of our family and uncle is in his good books. It isjust possible that he might recommend you for some State help for your education in England.I liked all this and got ready to start off for Porbandar. There was no railway in those days. It wasa five days bullock-cart journey. I have already said that I was a coward. But at that moment mycowardice vanished before the desire to go to England, which completely possessed me. I hired abullock-cart as far as Dhoraji, and from Dhoraji I took a camel in order to get to Porbandar a dayquicker. This was my first camel-ride.I arrived at last, did obeisance to my uncle, and told him everything. He thought it over and said :I am not sure whether it is possible for one to stay in England without prejudice to ones ownreligion. From all I have heard, I have my doubts. When I meet these big barristers, I see no
  20. difference between their life and that of Europeans. They know no scruples regarding food.Cigars are never out of their mouths. They dress as shamelessly as Englishmen. All that wouldnot be in keeping with our family tradition. I am shortly going on a pilgrimage and have not manyyears to live. At the threshold of death, how dare I give you permission to go to England, to crossthe seas? But I will not stand in your way. It is your mothers permission which really matters. Ifshe permits you, then godspeed! Tell her I will not interfere. You will go with my blessings.I could expect nothing more from you, said I. I shall now try to win mother over. But would younot recommend me to Mr. Lely?How can I do that? said he. But he is a good man. You ask for an appointment telling him howyou are connected. He will certainly give you one and may even help you.I cannot say why my uncle did not give me a note of recommendation. I have a faint idea that hehesitated to co-operate directly in my going to England, which was in his opinion an irreligiousact.I wrote to Mr Lely, who asked me to see him at his residence. He saw me as he was ascendingthe staircase;and saying curtly, Pass your B.A. fist and then see me. No help can be given younow, he hurried upstairs. I had made elaborate preparations to meet him. I had carefully learnt upa few sentences and had bowed low and saluted him with both hands. But all to no purpose!I thought of my wifes ornaments. I thought of my elder brother, in whom I had the utmost faith.He was generous to a fault, and he loved me as his son.I returned to Rajkot from Porbandar and reported all that had happened. I consulted Joshiji, whoof course advised even incurring a debt if necessary. I suggested the disposal of my wifesornaments, which could fetch about two or three thousand rupees. My brother promised to findthe money somehow.My mother, however, was still unwilling. She had begun making minute inquiries. Someone hadtold her that young men got lost in England. Someone else had said that they took to meat; andyet another that they could not live there without liquor. How about all this? she asked me. I said:Will you not trust me? I shall not lie to you. I swear that I shall not touch any of those things. Ifthere were any such danger, would Joshiji let me go?I can trust you, she said.But how can I trust you in a distant land? I am dazed and know notwhat to do. I will ask Becharji Swami.Becharji Swami was originally a Modh Bania, but had now become a Jain monk. He too was afamily adviser like Joshiji. He came to my help, and said: I shall get the boy solemnly to take thethree vows, and then he can be allowed to go. He administered the oath and I vowed not totouch wine, woman and meat. This done, my mother gave her permission.The high school had a send-off in my honour. It was an uncommon thing for a young man ofRajkot to go to England. I had written out a few words of thanks. But I could scarcely stammerthem out. I remember how my head reeled and how my whole frame shook as I stood up to readthem.With the blessing of my elders, I started for Bombay. This was my first journey from Rajkot toBombay. This was my first journey from Rajkot to Bombay. My brother accompanied me. Butthere is many a slip, twixt the cup and the lip. There were difficulties to be faced in Bombay.
  21. Chapter 12 OUTCASTEWith my mothers permission and blessings, I set off exultantly for Bombay, leaving my wifewith a baby of a few months. But on arrival there friends told my brother that the Indian Oceanwas rough in June and July, and as this was my first voyage, I should not be allowed to sail untilNovember. Someone also reported that a steamer had just been sunk in a gale. This made mybrother uneasy, and he refused to take the risk of allowing me to sail immediately. Leaving mewith a friend in Bombay, he returned to Rajkot to resume his duty. He put the money for mytravelling expenses in the keeping of a brother-in-law, and left word with some friends to give mewhatever help I might need.Time hung heavily on my hands in Bombay. I dreamt continually of going to England.Meanwhile my caste-people were agitated over my going abroad. No Modh Bania had been toEngland up to now, and if I dared to do so, I ought to be brought to book! A general meeting ofthe caste was called and I was summoned to appear before it. I went. Now I suddenly managedto muster up courage I do not know. Nothing daunted, and without the slightest hesitation, I camebefore the meeting. The Sheth- the headman of the community who was distantly related to meand had been on very good terms with my father, thus accosted me:In the opinion of the caste, your proposal to go to England is not proper. Our religion forbidsvoyages abroad. We have also heard that it is not possible to live there without compromising outreligion. One is obliged to eat and drink with Europeans!To which I replied: I do not think it is at all against our religion to go to England. I intend goingthere for further studies. And I have already solemnly promised to my mother to abstain fromthree things you fear most. I am sure the vow will keep me safe.But we tell you, rejoined the Sheth, that it is not possible to keep our religion there. You knowmy relations with your father and you ought to listen to my advice.I know those relations. said I. And you are as an elder to me. But I am helpless in this matter. Icannot alter my resolve to go to England. My fathers friend and adviser, who is a learnedBrahman, sees no objection to my gong to England, and my mother and brother have also givenme their permission.But will you disregard the orders of the caste?I am really helpless. I think the caste should not interfere in the matter.This incensed the Sheth. He swore at me. I sat unmoved. So the Sheth pronounced his order:This boy shall be treated as an outcaste from today. Whoever helps him or goes to see him off atthe dock shall be punishable with a fine of one rupee four annas.
  22. The order had no effect on me, and I took my leave of the Sheth. But I wondered how my brotherwould take it. Fortunately he remained firm and wrote to assure me that I had his permission togo, the Sheths order notwithstanding.The incident, however, made me more anxious than ever to sail. What would happen if theysucceeded in bringing pressure to bear on my brother? Supposing something unforeseenhappened? As I was thus worrying over my predicament, I heard that a Junagadh vakil was goingto England, for being called to the bar, by a boat sailing on the 4th of September. I met the friendsto whose care my brother had commended me. They also agreed that I should not let go theopportunity of going in such company. There was no time to be lost. I wired to my brother forpermission, which he granted. I asked my brother-in-law to give me the money. But he referred tothe order of the Sheth and said that he could not afford to lose caste. I then sought a friend of thefamily and requested him to accommodate me to the extent of my passage and sundries, and torecover the loan from my brother. The friend was not only good enough to accede to my request,but he cheered me up as well. I was so thankful. With part of the money I at once purchased thepassage. Then I had to equip myself for the voyage. There was another friend who hadexperience in the matter. He got clothes and other things ready. Some of the clothes I liked andsome I did not like at all. The necktie, which I delighted in wearing later, I then abhorred. Theshort jacket I looked upon as immodest. But this dislike was nothing before the desire to go toEngland, which was uppermost in me. Of provisions also I had enough and to spare for thevoyage. A berth was reserved for me by my friends in the same cabin as that of Sjt. TryambakraiMazmudar, the Junagadh vakil. They also commended me to him. He was an experienced manof mature age and knew the world. I was yet a stripling of eighteen without any experience of theworld. Sjt. Mazmudar told my friends not to worry about me.I sailed at last from Bombay on the 4th of September. Chapter 13 IN LONDON AT LASTI did not feel at all sea-sick. But as the days passed, I became fidgety. I felt shy even inspeaking to the steward. I was quite unaccustomed to talking English, and except for Sjt.Mazmudar all the other passengers in the second saloon were English. I could not speak to them.For I could rarely follow their remarks when they came up to speak to me, and even when Iunderstood I could not reply. I had to frame every sentence in my mind, before I could bring it out.I was innocent of the use of knives and forks and had not the boldness to inquire what dishes onthe menu were free of meat, I therefore never took meals at table but always had them in mycabin, and they consisted principally of sweets and fruits which I had brought with me. Sjt.Mazmudar had no difficulty, and he mixed with everybody. He would move about freely on deck,while I hid myself in the cabin the whole day, only venturing up on deck when there were but fewpeople. Sjt. Mazmudar kept pleading with me to associate with the passengers and to talk withthem freely. He told me that lawyers should have a long tongue, and related to me his legalexperiences. He advised me to take every possible opportunity of talking English, and not to mindmaking mistakes which were obviously unavoidable with a foreign tongue. But nothing couldmake me conquer my shyness.An English passenger, taking kindly to me, drew me into conversation. He was older than I. Heasked me what I ate, what I was, where I was going, why I was shy, and so on. He also advisedme to come to table. He laughed at my insistence on abjuring meat, and said in a friendly way
  23. when we were in the Red Sea: It is all very well so far but you will have to revise your decision inthe Bay of Biscay. And it is so cold in England that one cannot possibly live there without meat.But I have heard that people can live there without eating meat, I said.Rest assured it is a fib, said he. No one, to my knowledge, lives there without being a meat-eater. Dont you see that I am not asking you to take liquor, though I do so? But I do think youshould eat meat, for you cannot live without it.I thank you for your kind advice, but I have solemnly promised to my mother not to touch meat,and therefore I cannot think of taking it. If it be found impossible to get on without it, I will farrather go back to India than eat meat in order to remain there.We entered the Bay of Biscay, but I did not begin to feel the need either of meat or liquor. I hadbeen advised to collect certificates of my having abstained from met, and I asked the Englishfriend to give me one. He gladly gave it and I treasured it for some time. But when I saw later thatone could get such a certificate in spite of being a meat-eater, it lost all its charm for me. If myword was not to be trusted, where was the use of possessing a certificate in the matter?However, we reached Southampton, as far as I remember, on a Saturday. On the boat I had worna black suit, the white flannel one, which my friends had got me, having been kept especially forwearing when I landed. I had thought that white clothes would suit me better when I steppedashore, and therefore I did so in white flannels. Those were the last days of September, and Ifound I was the only person wearing such clothes. I left in charge of an agent of Grindlay and Co.all my kit, including the keys, seeing that many others had done the same and I must follow suit.I had four notes of introduction : to Dr. P. J. Mehta, to Sjt. Dalpatram Shukla, to Prince Ranjitsinhjiand to Dadabhai Naoroji. Someone on board had advised us to put up at the Victoria Hotel inLondon. Sjt Mazmudar and I accordingly went there. The shame of being the only person in whiteclothes was already too much for me. And when at the Hotel I was told that I should not get mythings from Grindlays the next day, it being a Sunday, I was exasperated.Dr. Mehta, to whom I had wired from Southampton, called at about eight oclock the sameevening. He gave me a hearty greeting. He smiled at my being in flannels. As we were talking. Icasually picked up his top- hat, and trying to see how smooth it was, passed my hand over it thewrong way and disturbed the fur. Dr. Mehta looked somewhat angrily at what I was doing andstopped me. But the mischief had been done. The incident was a warning for the future. This wasmy first lesson in European etiquette, into the details of which Dr. Mehta humorously initiated me.Do not touch other peoples things, he said. Do not ask questions as we usually do in India onfirst acquaintance; do not talk loudly; never address people as sir whilst speaking to them as wedo in India; only servants and subordinates address their masters that way; And so on and soforth. He also told me that it was very expensive to live in a hotel and recommended that I shouldlive with a private family. We deferred consideration of the matter until Monday.Sjt.Mazmudar and I found the hotel to be a trying affair. It was also very expensive. There was,however, a Sindhi fellow-passenger from Malta who had become friends with Sjt Mazmudar, andas he was not a stranger to London, he offered to find rooms for us. We agreed,and on Monday,as soon as we got our baggage, we paid up our bills and went to the rooms rented for us by theSindhi friend. I remember my hotel bill came to £ 3 an amount which shocked me. And I hadpractically starved in spite of this heavy bill! For I could relish nothing. When I did not like onething, I asked for another, but had to pay for both just the same. The fact is that all this while I haddepended on the provisions which I had brought with me from Bombay.
  24. I was very uneasy even in the new rooms. I would continually think of my home and country. Mymothers love always hunted me. At night the tears would stream down my cheeks, and homememories of all sorts made sleep out of the question. It was impossible to share my misery withanyone. And even if I could have done so, where was the use? I knew of nothing that wouldsoothe me. Everything was strange-the people, their ways, and even their dwellings. I was acomplete novice in the matter of English etiquette and continually had to be on my guard. Therewas the additional inconvenience of the vegetarian vow. Even the dishes that I could eat weretasteless and insipid. I thus found myself between Scylla and Charybdis. England I could notbear, but to return to India was not to be thought of. Now that I had come, I must finish the threeyears, said the inner voice. Chapter 14 MY CHOICEDr. Mehta went on Monday to the Victoria Hotel expecting to find me there. He discovered thatwe had left, got our new address, and met me at our rooms. Through sheer folly I had managedto get ringworm on the boat. For washing and bathing we used to have sea-water, in which soapis not soluble. I, however, used soap, taking its use to be a sign of civilization, with the result thatinstead of cleaning the skin it made it greasy. This gave me ringworm. I showed it to Dr. Mehta,who told me to apply acetic acid. I remember how the burning acid made me cry. Dr. Mehtainspected my room and its appointments and shook his head in disapproval. This place wont do,he said. We come to England not so much for the purpose of studies as for gaining experience ofEnglish life and customs. And for this you need to live with a family. But before you do so, I thinkyou had better serve a period of apprenticeship with -. I will take you there.I gratefully accepted the suggestion and removed to the friends rooms. He was all kindness andattention. He treated me as his own brother, initiated me into English ways and manners, andaccustomed me to talking the language. My food, however, became a serious question. I couldnot relish boiled vegetables cooked without salt or condiments. The landlady was at a loss toknow what to prepare for me. We had oatmeal porridge for breakfast, which was fairly filling, but Ialways starved at lunch and dinner. The friend continually reasoned with me to eat meat, but Ialways pleaded my vow and then remained silent. Both for luncheon and dinner we had spinachand bread and jam too. I was a good eater and had a capacious stomach; but I was ashamed toask for more than two or three slices of bread, as it did not seem correct to do so. Added to this,there was no milk either for lunch or dinner. The friend once got disgusted with this state ofthings, and said: Had you been my own brother, I would have sent you packing. What is thevalue of a vow made before an illiterate mother, and in ignorance of conditions here? It is no vowat all. It would not be regarded as a vow in law. It is pure superstition to stick to such a promise.And I tell you this persistence will not help you to gain anything here. You confess to having eatenand relished met. You took it where it was absolutely unnecessary, and will not where it is quiteessential. What a pity!But I was adamant.Day in and day out the friend would argue, but I had an eternal negative to face him with. Themore he argued, the more uncompromising I became. Daily I would pray for Gods protection andget it. Not that i had any idea of God. It was faith that was at work-faith of which the seed hadbeen sown by the good nurse Rambha.
  25. One day the friend began to read to me Benthams Theory of Utility. I was at my wits end. Thelanguage was too difficult for me to understand. He began to expound it. I said: Pray excuse me.These abstruse things are beyond me. I admit it is necessary to eat meat. But I cannot break myvow. I cannot argue about it. I am sure I cannot meet you in argument. But please give me up asfoolish or obstinate. I appreciate your love for me and I know you to be my well-wisher. I alsoknow that you are telling me again and again about this because you feel for me. But I amhelpless. A vow is a vow. It cannot be broken.The friend looked at me in surpirse. He closed the book and said: All right. I will not argue anymore. I was glad. He never discussed the subject again. But he did not cease to worry about me.He smoked and drank, but he never asked me to do so. In fact he asked me to remain away fromboth. His one anxiety was lest I should become very weak without meat, and thus be unable tofeel at home in England.That is how I served my apprenticeship for a month. The friends house was in Richmond, and itwas not possible to go to London more than once or twice a week. Dr. Mehta and Sjt. DalparamShukla therefore decided that I should be put with some family. Sjt. Shukla hit upon an Anglo-Indians house in West Kensington and placed me there. The landlady was a widow. I told herabout my vow. The old lady promised to look after me properly, and I took up my residence in herhouse. Here too I practically had to starve. I had sent for sweets and other eatables from home,but nothing had yet come. Everything was insipid. Every day the old lady asked me whether Iliked the food, but what could she do? I was still as shy as ever and dared not ask for more thanwas put before me. She had two daughters. They insisted on serving me with an extra slice ortwo of bread. But little did they know that nothing less than a loaf would have filled me.But I had found my feet now. I had not yet started upon my regular studies. I had just begunreading newspapers, thanks to Sjt. Shukla. In India I had never read a newspaper. But here Isucceeded in cultivating a liking for them by regular reading. I always glanced over The DailyNews, The Daily Telegraph, and The Pall Mall Gazette . This took me hardly an hour. I thereforebegan to wander about. I launched out in search of a vegetarian restaurant. The landlady had toldme that there were such places in the city. I would trot ten or twelve miles each day, go into acheap restaurant and eat my fill of bread, but would never be satisifed. During these wanderings Ionce hit on a vegetarian restaurant in Farringdon Street. The sight of it filled me with the same joythat a child feels on getting a thing after its own heart. Before I entered I noticed books for saleexhibited under a glass window near the door. I saw among them Salts Plea for Vegetarianism.This I purchased for a shilling and went straight to the dining room. This was my first hearty mealsince my arrival in England. God had come to my aid.I read Salts book from cover to cover and was very much impressed by it. From the date ofreading this book, I may claim to have become a vegetarian by choice. I blessed the day onwhich I had taken the vow before my mother. I had all along abstained from meat in the interestsof truth and of the vow I had taken, but had wished at the same time that every Indian should be ameat-eater, and had looked forward to being one myself freely and openly some day, and toenlisting others in the cause. The choice was now made in favour of vegetarianism, the spread ofwhich henceforward became my mission.
  26. Chapter 15 PLAYING THE ENGLISH GENTLEMANM y faith in vegetarianism grew on me from day to day. Salts book whetted my appetite fordietetic studies. I went in for all books available on on vegetaranism and read them. One of these,Howard Williams The Ethics of Diet, was biographical history of the literature of humane dieteticsfrom the earliest period to the present day.It tried to make out, that all philosophers and prophetsfrom Pythagoras and Jesus down to those of the present age were vegetarians. Dr. AnnaKingsfords The Perfect Way in Diet was also an attractive book. Dr. Allinsons writings on healthand hygiene were likewise very helpful. He advocated a curative system based on regulation ofthe dietary of patients. Himself a vegetarian, he prescribed for his patients also a strictlyvegetarian diet. The result of reading all this literature was that dietetic experiments came to takean important place in my life. Health was the principal consideration of these experiments tobegin with. But later on religion became the supreme motive.Meanwhile my friend had not ceased to worry about me. His love for me led him to think that, if Ipersisted in my objections to meat-eating, I should not only develop a weak constitution, butshould remain a duffer, because I should never feel at home in English society. When he came toknow that I had begun to interest myself in books on vegetarianism, he was afraid lest thesestudies should muddle my head; that I should fritter my life away in experiments, forgetting myown work, and become a crank. He therefore made one last effort to reform me. He one dayinvited me to go to the theatre. Before the play we were to dine together at the HolbornRestaurant, to me a palatial place and the first big restaurant I had been to since leaving theVictoria Hotel. The stay at that hotel had scarcely been a helpful experience, for I had not livedthere with my wits about me. The friend had planned to take me to this restaurant evidentlyimagining that modesty would forbid any questions. And it was a very big company of diners inthe midst of which my friend and I sat sharing a table between us. The first course was soup. Iwondered what it might be made of, but durst not ask the friend about it. I therefore summonedthe waiter. My friend saw the movement and sternly asked across the table what was the matter.With considerable hesitation I told him that I wanted to inquire if the soup was a vegetable soup.You are too clumsy for decent society, he passionately exclaimed If you cannot behave yourself,you had better go. Feed in some other restaurant and await me outside. This delighted me. Out Iwent. There was a vegetarian restaurant close by, but it was closed. So I went without food thatnight. I accompanied my friend to the theatre, but he never said a word about the scene I hadcreated. On my part of course there was nothing to say.That was the last friendly tussle we had. It did not affect our relations in the least. I could see andappreciate the love by which all my friends efforts were actuated, and my respect for him was allthe greater on account of our differences in thought and action.But I decided that I should put him at ease, that I should assure him that I would be clumsy nomore, but try to become polished and make up for my vegetarianism by cultivating otheraccomplishments which fitted one for polite soceity. And for this purpose I undertook the all tooimpossible task of becoming an English gentleman.The clothes after the Bombay cut that I was wearing were, I thought unsuitable for Englishsociety, and I got new ones at the Army and Navy stores. I also went in for a chimney-pot hatcosting nineteen shillings an excessive price in those days. Not content with this, I wasted tenpounds on an evening suit made in Bond Street, the centre of fashionable life in London; and gotmy good and noble-hearted brother to send me a double watch-chain of gold. It was not correct towear a ready-made tie and I learnt the art of tying one for myself. While in India, the mirror had
  27. been a luxury permitted on the days when the family barber gave me a shave. Here I wasted tenminutes every day before a huge mirror, watching myself arranging my tie and parting my hair inthe correct fashion. My hair was by no means soft, and every day it meant a regular struggle withthe brush to keep it in position. Each time the hat was put on and off, the hand wouldautomatically move towards the head to adjust the hair, not to mention the other civilized habit ofthe hand every now and then operating for the same purpose when sitting in polished society.As if all this were not enough to make me look the thing, I directed my attention to other detailsthat were supposed to go towards the making of an English gentleman. I was told it wasnecessary for me to take lessons in dancing, French and elocution. French was not only thelanguage of neighbouring France, but it was the lingua franca of the Continent over which I had adesire to travel. I decided to take dancing lessons at a class and paid down £ 3 as fees for a term.I must have taken about six lessons in three weeks. But it was beyond me To achieve anythinglike rhythmic motion. I could not follow the piano and hence found it impossible to keep time.What then was I to do? The recluse in the fable kept a cat to keep off the rats, and then a cow tofeed the cat with milk, and a man to keep the cow and so on. My ambitions also grew like thefamily of the recluse. I thought I should learn to play the violin in order to cultivate an ear forWestern music. So I invested £3 in a violin and something more in fees. I sought a third teacherto give me lessons in elocution and paid him a preliminary fee of a guinea. He recommendedBells Standard Elocutionist as the text-book, which I purchased. And I began with a speech ofPitts.But Mr. Bell rang the bell of alarm in my ear and I awoke.I had not to spend a lifetime in England, I said to myself. What then was the use of learningelocution? And how could dancing make a gentleman of me? The violin I could learn even inIndia. I was a student and ought to go on with my studies. I should qualify myself to join the Innsof Court. If my character made a gentleman of me, so much the better. Otherwise I should foregothe ambition.These and similar thoughts possessed me, and I expressed them in a letter which I addressed tothe elocution teacher, requesting him to excuse me from further lessons. I had taken only two orthree. I wrote a similar letter to the dancing teacher, and went personally to the violin teacher witha request to dispose of the violin for any price it might fetch. She was rather friendly to me, so Itold her how I had discovered that I was pursuing a false idea. She encouraged me in thedetermination to make a complete change.This infatuation must have lasted about three months. The punctiliousness in dress persisted foryears. But henceforward I became a student. Chapter 16 CHANGESLet no one imagine that my experiments in dancing and the like marked a stage of indulgence inmy life. The reader will have noticed that even then I had my wits about me. That period ofinfatuation was not unrelieved by a certain amount of self-introspection on my part. I kept accountof every farthing I spent, and my expenses were carefully calculated. Every little item such asomnibus fares or postage or a couple of coppers spent on newspapers, would be entered, andthe balance struck every evening before going to bed. That habit has stayed with me ever since,and I know that as a result, though I have had to handle public funds amounting to lakhs, I have
  28. succeeded in exercising strict economy in their disbursement, and instead of outstanding debtshave had invariably a surplus balance in respect of all the movements I have led. Let every youthtake a leaf out of my book and make it a point to account for everything that comes into and goesout of his pocket, and like me he is sure to be a gainer in the end.As I kept strict watch over my way of living, I could see that it was necessary to economize. Itherefore decided to reduce my expenses by half. My accounts showed numerous items spent onfares. Again my living with a family meant the payment of a regular weekly bill. It also included thecourtesy of occasionally taking members of the family out to dinner, and likewise attending partieswith them. All this involved heavy items for conveyances, especially as, if the friend was a lady,custom required that the man should pay all the expenses. Also dining out meant extra cost, asno deduction could be made from the regular weekly bill for meals not taken. It seemed to me thatall these items could be saved, as likewise the drain on my purse through a false sense ofpropriety.So I decided to take rooms on my own account, instead of living any longer in a family, and alsoto remove from place to place according to the work I had to do, thus gaining experience at thesame time. The rooms were so selected as to enable me to reach the place of business on foot inhalf an hour, and so save fares. Before this I had always taken some kind of conveyancewhenever I went anywhere, and had to find extra time for walks. The new arrangement combinedwalks and economy, as it meant a saving of fares and gave me walks of eight or ten miles a day.It was mainly this habit of long walks that kept me practically free from illness throughout my stayin England and gave me a fairly strong body.Thus I rented a suite of rooms; one for a sitting room and another for a bedroom. This was thesecond stage. The third was yet to come.These changes saved me half the expense. But how was I to utilize the time? I knew that Barexaminations did not require much study, and I therefore did not feel pressed for time. My weakEnglish was a perpetual worry to me. Mr (afterwards Sir Frederic) Lelys words, Graduate firstand then come to me, still rang in my ears. I should, I thought, not only be called to the Bar, buthave some literary degree as well. I inquired about the Oxford and Cambridge University courses,consulted a few friends, and found that, if I elected to go to either of these places, that wouldmean greater expense and a much longer stay in England than I was prepared for. A friendsuggested that, if I really wanted to have the satisfaction of taking a difficult examination, I shouldpass the London Matriculation. It meant a good deal of labour and much addition to my stock ofgeneral knowledge, without any extra expense worth the name. I welcomed the suggestion. Butthe syllabus frightened me. Latin and a modern language were compulsory! How was I tomanage Latin? But the friend entered a strong plea for it: Latin is very valuable to lawyers.Knowledge of Latin is very useful in understanding law-books. And one paper in Roman Law isentirely in Latin. Besides a knowledge of Latin means greater command over the Englishlanguage. It went home and I decided to learn Latin, no matter how difficult it might be. French Ihad already begun, so I thought that should be the modern language. I joined a privateMatriculation class. Examinations were held every six months and I had only five months at mydisposal. It was an almost impossible task for me. But the aspirant after being an Englishgentleman chose to convert himself into a serious student. I framed my own time-table to theminute; but neither my intelligence nor memory promised to enable me to tackle Latin and Frenchbesides other subjects within the given period. The result was that I was ploughed in Latin. I wassorry but did not lose heart. I had acquired a taste for Latin, also I thought my French would be allthe better for another trial and I would select a new subject in the science group. Chemistry whichwas my subject in science had no attraction for want of experiments, Whereas it ought to havebeen a deeply interesting study. It was one of the compulsory subjects in India and so I hadselected it for the London Matriculation. This time, however, I chose Heat and Light instead ofChemistry. It was said to be easy and I found it to be so.
  29. With my preparation for another trial, I made an effort to simplify my life still further. I felt that myway of living did not yet befit the modest means of my family. The thought of my strugglingbrother, who nobly responded to my regular calls for monetary help, deeply pained me. I saw thatmost of those who were spending from eight to fifteen pounds monthly had the advantage ofscholarships. I had before me examples of much simpler living. I came across a fair number ofpoor students living more humbly than I. One of them was staying in the slums in a room at twoshillings a week and living on two pence worth of cocoa and bread per meal from Lockhartscheap Cocoa Rooms. It was far from me to think of emulating him, but I felt I could surely haveone room instead of two and cook some of my meals at home. That would be a saving of four tofive pounds each month. I also came across books on simple living. I gave up the suite of roomsand rented one instead, invested in a stove, and began cooking my breakfast at home. Theprocess scarcely took me more than twenty minutes for there was only oatmeal porridge to cookand water to boil for cocoa. I had lunch out and for dinner bread and cocoa at home. Thus Imanaged to live on a shilling and three pence a day. This was also a period of intensive study.Plain living saved me plenty of time and I passed my examination.Let not the reader think that this living made my life by any means a dreary affair. On the contrarythe change harmonized my inward and outward life. It was also more in keeping with the meansof my family. My life was certainly more truthful and my soul knew no bounds of joy. Chapter 17 EXPERIMENTS IN DIETETICSAs I searched myself deeper, the necessity for changes both internal and external began togrow on me. As soon as, or even before, I made alterations in my expenses and my way of living,I began to make changes in my diet. I saw that the writers on vegetarianism had examined thequestion very minutely, attacking it in its religious, scientific, practical and medical aspects.Ethically they had arrived at the conclusion that mans supremacy over the lower animals meantnot that the former should prey upon the latter, but that the higher should protect the lower, andthat there should be mutual aid between the two as between man and man. They had alsobrought out the truth that man eats not for enjoyment but to live. And some of them accordinglysuggested and effected in their lives abstention not only from flesh-meat but from eggs and milk.Scientifically some had concluded that mans physical structure showed that he was not meant tobe a cooking but a frugivorous animal, that he could take only his mothers milk and, as soon ashe teeth, should begin to take solid foods. Medically they had suggested the rejection of all spicesand condiments. According to the practical and economic argument they had demonstrated that avegetarian diet was the least expensive. All these considerations had their effect on me, and Icame across vegetarians of all these types in vegetarian restaurants. There was a vegetarianSociety in England with a weekly journal of its own. I subscribed to the weekly, joined the societyand very shortly found myself on the Executive Committee. Here I came in contact with thosewho were regarded as pillars of vegetarianism, and began my own experiments in dietetics.I stopped taking the sweets and condiments I had got from home. The mind having taken adifferent turn, the fondness for condiments wore away, and I now relished the boiled spinachwhich in Richmond tasted insipid, cooked without condiments. Many such experiments taught methat the real seat of taste was not the tongue but the mind.
  30. The economic consideration was of course constantly before me. There was in those days a bodyof opinion which regarded tea and coffee as harmful and favoured cocoa. And as I was convincedthat one should eat only articles that sustained the body, I gave up tea and coffee as a rule, andsubstituted cocoa.There were two divisions in the restaurants I used to visit. One division, which was patronized byfairly well-to-do people, provided any number of courses from which one chose and paid for a lacarte , each dinner thus costing from one to two shillings. The other division provided six-pennydinners of three courses with a slice of bread. In my days of strict frugality I usually dined in thesecond division.There were many minor experiments going on along with the main one; as for example, giving upstarchy foods at one time, living on bread and fruit alone at another, and once living on cheese,milk and eggs. This last experiments is worth noting. It lasted not even a fortnight. The reformerwho advocated starchless food had spoken highly of eggs and held that eggs were not meat. Itwas apparent that there was no injury done to living creatures in taking eggs. I was taken in bythis plea and took eggs in spite of my vow. But the lapse was momentary. I had no business toput a new interpretation on the vow. The interpretation of my mother who administered the vowwas there for me. I knew that her definition of meat included eggs. And as soon as I saw the trueimport of the vow I gave up eggs and the experiment alike.There is a nice point underlying the argument, and worth noting. I came across three definitionsof meat in England. According to the first, meat denoted only the flesh of birds and beasts.Vegetarians who accepted that definition abjured the flesh of birds and beasts, but ate fish, not tomention eggs. According to the second definition, meat meant flesh of all living creatures. So fishwas here out of the question, but eggs were allowed. The third definition as all their products,thus covering eggs and milk alike. If I accepted the first definition, I could take not only eggs, butfish also. But I was convinced that my mothers definition was the definition binding on me. If,therefore, I would observe the vow I had taken, I must abjure eggs. I therefore did so. This was ahardship inasmuch as inquiry showed that even in vegetarian restaurants many courses used tocontain eggs. This meant that unless I knew what was what, I had to go through the awkwardprocess of ascertaining whether a particular course contained eggs or no, for many puddings andcakes were not free from them. But though the revelation of my duty caused this difficulty, itsimplified my food. The simplification in its turn brought me annoyance in that I had to give upseveral dishes I had come to relish. These difficulties were only passing, for the strict observanceof the vow produced an inward relish distinctly more healthy, delicate and permanent.The real ordeal, however, was still to come, and that was in respect of the other vow. But whodare harm whom God protects?A few observations about the interpretation of vows or pledges may not be out of place here.Interpretation of pledges has been a fruitful source of strife all the world over. No matter howexplicit the pledge, people will turn and twist the text to suit their own purposes. They are to bemet with among all classes of society, from the rich down to the poor, from the prince down to thepeasant. Selfishness turns them blind, and by a use of the ambiguous middle they deceivethemselves and seek to deceive the world and God. One golden rule is to accept theinterpretation honestly put on the pledge by the party administering it. Another is to accept theinterpretation of the weaker party, where there are two interpretations possible. Rejection of thesetwo rules gives rise to strife and iniquity, which are rooted in untruthfulness. He who seeks truthalone easily follows the golden rule. He need not seek learned advice for interpretation. Mymothers interpretation of meat was, according to the golden rule, the only true one for me, andnot the one my wider experience or my pride of better knowledge might have taught me.My experiments in England were conducted from the point of view of economy and hygiene. Thereligious aspect of the question was not considered until I went to South Africa where I undertook
  31. strenuous experiments which will be narrated later. The seed, however, for all of them was sownin England.A converts enthusiasm for his new religion is greater than that of a person who is born in it.Vegetarianism was then a new cult in England, and likewise for me, because, as we have seen, Ihad gone there a convinced meat-eater, and was intellectually converted to vegetarianism later.Full of the neophytes zeal for vegetarianism, I decided to start a vegetarian club in my locality,Bayswater. I invited Sir Edwin Arnold, who lived there , to be Vice-President. Dr. Oldfield who wasEditor of the The Vegetarian became President. I myself became the Secretary. The club wentwell for a while, but came to an end in the course of a few months. For I left the locality, accordingto my custom of moving from place to place periodically. But this brief and modest experiencegave me some little training in organizing and conducting institutions.Chapter 18SHYNESS MY SHIELDI was elected to the Executive Committee of the Vegetarian Society, and made it a point toattend every one of its meetings, but I always felt tongue-tied. Dr. Oldfield once said to me, Youtalk to me quite all right, but why is it that you never open your lips at a committee meeting? Youare a drone. I appreciated the banter. The bees are ever busy, the drone is a thorough idler. Andit was not a little curious that whilst others expressed their opinions at these meetings, I sat quitesilent. Not that I never felt tempted to speak. But I was at a loss to know how to express myself.All the rest of the members appeared to me to be better informed than I. Then I often happenedthat just when I had mustered up courage to speak, a fresh subject would be started. This wenton for a long time.Meantime a serious question came up for discussion. I thought it wrong to be absent, and felt itcowardice to register a silent vote. The discussion arose somewhat in this wise. The President ofthe Society was Mr. Hills, proprietor of the Thames Iron Works. He was a puritan. It may be saidthat the existence of the Society depended practically on his financial assistance. Many membersof the Committee were more or less his proteges. Dr. Allinson of vegetarian fame was also amember of the Committee. He was an advocate of the then new birth control movement, andpreached its methods among the working classes. Mr. Hills regarded these methods as cutting atthe root of morals. He thought that the Vegetarian Society had for its object not only dietetic butalso moral reform, and that a man of Dr. Allinsons anti- puritanic views should not be allowed toremain in the Society. A motion was therefore brought for his removal. The question deeplyinterested me. I considered Dr. Allinsons views regarding artificial methods of birth control asdangerous, and I believed that Mr. Hills was entitled, as a puritan, to oppose him. I had also ahigh regard for Mr. Hills and his generosity. But I thought it was quite improper to exclude a manfrom a vegetarian society simply because he refused to regard puritan morals as one of theobjects of the society. Mr. Hills view regarding the exclusion of anti-puritans from the society waspersonal to himself, and it had nothing to do with the declared object of the society, which wassimply the promotion of vegetarianism and not of any system of morality. I therefore held that anyvegetarian could be a member of the society irrespective of his views on other morals.There were in the Committee others also who shared my view, but I felt myself personally calledupon to express my own. How to do it was the question. I had not the courage to speak and Itherefore decided to set down my thoughts in writing. I went to the meeting with the document in
  32. my pocket. So far as I recollect, I did not find myself equal even to reading it, and the Presidenthad it read by someone else. Dr. Allinson lost the day. Thus in the very first battle of the kind Ifound myself siding with the losing party. But I had comfort in the thought that the cause wasright. I have a faint recollection that, after this incident, I resigned from the Committee.This shyness I retained throughout my stay in England. Even when I paid a social call thepresence of half a dozen or more people would strike me dumb.I once went to Ventnor with Sjt. Mazmudar. We stayed there with a vegetarian family. Mr.Howard, the author of The Ethics of Diet, was also staying at the same wateringplace. We methim, and he invited us to speak at a meeting for the promotion of vegetarianism. I hadascertained that it was not considered incorrect to read ones speech. I knew that many did so toexpress themselves coherently and briefly. To speak ex tempore would have been out of thequestion for me. I had therefore written down my speech. I stood up to read it, but could not. Myvision became blurred and I trembled, though the speech hardly covered a sheet of foolscap. Sjt.Mazmudar had to read it for me. His own speech was of course excellent and was received withapplause. I was ashamed of myself and sad at heart for my incapacity.My last effort to make a public speech in England was on the eve of my departure for home. Butthis time too I only succeeded in making myself ridiculous. I invited my vegetarian friends todinner in the Holborn Restaurant referred to in these chapters. A vegetarian dinner could be had,I said to myself, in vegetarian restaurants as a matter of course. But why should it not bepossible in a non- vegetarian restaurant too? And I arranged with the manager of the HolbornRestaurant to provide a strictly vegetarian meal. The vegetarians hailed the new experiment withdelight. All dinners are meant for enjoyment, but the West has developed the thing into an art.They are celebrated with great eclat, music and speeches. And the little dinner party that I gavewas also not unaccompanied by some such display. Speeches, therefore, there had to be. Whenmy turn for speaking came, I stood up to make a speech. I had with great care thought out onewhich would consist of a very few sentences. But I could not proceed beyond the first sentence. Ihad read of Addison that he began his maiden speech in the House of Commons, repeating Iconceive three times, and when he could proceed no further, a wag stood up and said, Thegentleman conceived thrice but brought forth nothing. I had thought of making a humorousspeech taking this anecdote as the text. I therefore began with it and stuck there. My memoryentirely failed me and in attempting a humorous for having kindly responded to my invitation, Isaid abruptly, and sat down.It was only in South Africa that I got over this shyness, though I never completely overcame it. Itwas impossible for me to speak impromptu. I hesitated whenever I had to face strange audiencesand avoided making a speech whenever I could. Even today I do not think I could or would evenbe inclined to keep a meeting of friends engaged in idle talk.I must say that, beyond occasionally exposing me to laughter, my constitutional shyness hasbeen no disadvantage whatever. In fact I can see that, on the contrary, it has been all to myadvantage. My hesitancy in speech, which was once an annoyance, is now a pleasure. Itsgreatest benefit has been that it has taught me the economy of words. I have naturally formed thehabit of restraining my thoughts. And I can now give myself the certificate that a thoughtless wordhardly ever escapes my tongue or pen. I do not recollect ever having had to regret anything in myspeech or writing. I have thus been spared many a mishap and waste of time. Experience hastaught me that silence is part of the spiritual discipline of a votary of truth. Proneness toexaggerate, to suppress or modify the truth, wittingly or unwittingly, is a natural weakness of manand silence is necessary in order to surmount it. A man of few words will rarely be thoughtless inhis speech; he will measure every word. We find so many people impatient to talk. There is nochairman of a meeting who is not pestered with notes for permission to speak. And whenever thepermission is given the speaker generally exceeds the time-limit, asks for more time, and keepson talking without permission. All this talking can hardly be said to be of my benefit to the world. It
  33. is so much waste of time. My shyness has been in reality my shield and buckler. It has allowedme to grow. It has helped me in my discernment of truth. Chapter 19 THE CANKER OF UNTRUTHT here were comparatively few Indian students in England forty years ago. It was a practice withthem to affect the bachelor even though they might be married. School or college students inEngland are all bachelors, studies being regarded as incompatible with married life. We had thattradition in the good old days, a student then being invariably known as a brahmachari. But inthese days we have child- marriages, a thing practically unknown in England. Indian youths inEngland, therefore, felt ashamed to confess that they were married. There was also anotherreason for dissembling, namely that in the event of the fact being known it would be impossiblefor the young men to go about or flirt with the young girls of the family in which they lived. Theflirting was more or less innocent. Parents even encouraged it; and that sort of associationbetween young men and young women may even be a necessity there, in view of the fact thatevery young man has to choose his mate. If, however, Indian youths on arrival in England indulgein these relations, quite natural to English youths, the result is likely to be disastrous, as has oftenbeen found. I saw that our youths had succumbed to the temptation and chosen a life of untruthfor the sake of companionships which, however innocent in the case of English youths, were forthem undesirable. I too caught the contagion. I did not hesitate to pass myself off as a bachelorthough I was married and the father of a son. But I was none the happier for being a dissembler.Only my reserve and my reticence saved me from going into deeper waters. If I did not talk, nogirl would think it worth her while to enter into conversation with me or to go out with me.My cowardice was on a par with my reserve. It was customary in families like the one in which Iwas staying at Ventnor for the daughter of the landlady to take out guests for a walk. Mylandladys daughter took me one day to the lovely hills round Ventnor. I was no slow walker, butmy companion walked even faster, dragging me after her and chattering away all the while. Iresponded to her chatter sometimes with a whispered yes or no, or at the most yes, howbeautiful! She was flying like a bird whilst I was wondering when I should get back home. Wethus reached the top of a hill. How to get down again was the question. In spite of her high-heeledboots this sprightly young lady of twenty-five darted down the hill like an arrow. I wasshamefacedly struggling to get down. She stood at the foot smiling and cheering me and offeringto come and drag me. How could I be so chicken hearted? With the greatest difficulty, andcrawling at intervals, I somehow managed to scramble to the bottom. She loudly laughed bravoand shamed me all the more, as well she might.But I could not escape scatheless everywhere. For God wanted to rid me of the canker of untruth.I once went to Brighton, another watering- place like Ventnor. This was before the ventnor visit. Imet there at a hotel an old widow of moderate means. This was my first year in England. Thecourses on the menu were all described in French, which I did not understand. I sat at the sametable as the old lady. She saw that I was a stranger and puzzled, and immediately came to myaid. You seem to be a stranger, she said, and look perplexed. Why have you not orderedanything? I was spelling through the menu and preparing to ascertain the ingredients of thecourses from the waiter, when the good lady thus intervened. I thanked her, and explaining mydifficulty told her that I was at a loss to know which of the courses were vegetarian as I did notunderstand French.
  34. Let me help you, she said. I shall explain the card to you and show you what you may eat. Igratefully availed myself of her help. This was the beginning of an acquaintance that ripened intofriendship and was kept up all through my stay in England and long after. She gave me herLondon address and invited me to dine at her house every Sunday. On special occasions alsoshe would invite me, help me to conquer my bashfulness and introduce me to young ladies anddraw me into conversation with them. Particularly marked out for these conversations was ayoung lady who stayed with her, and often we would be left entirely alone together.I found all this very trying at first. I could not start a conversation nor could I indulge in any jokes.But she put me in the way. I began to learn; and in course of time looked forward to every Sundayand came to like the conversations with the young friend.The old lady went on spreading her net wider every day. She felt interested in our meetings.Possibly she had her own plans about us.I was in a quandary. How I wished I had told the good lady that I was married! I said to myself.She would then have not thought of an engagement between us. It is, however, never too late tomend. If I declare the truth, I might yet be saved more misery. With these thoughts in my mind, Iwrote a letter to her somewhat to this effect:Ever since we met at Brighton you have been kind to me. You have taken care of me even as amother of her son. You also think that I should get married and with that view you have beenintroducing me to young ladies. Rather than allow matters to go further, I must confess to you thatI have been unworthy of your affection. I should have told you when I began my visits to you that Iwas married. I knew that Indian students in England dissembled the fact of their marriage and Ifollowed suit. I now see that I should not have done so. I must also add that I was married whileyet a boy, and am the father of a son. I am pained that I should have kept this knowledge fromyou so long. But I am glad God has now given me the courage to speak out the truth. Will youforgive me? I assure you I have taken no improper liberties with the young lady you were goodenough to introduce to me. I knew my limits. You, not knowing that I was married, naturallydesired that we should be engaged. In order that things should not go beyond the present stage, Imust tell you the truth.If on receipt of this, you feel that I have been unworthy of your hospitality, I assure you I shall nottake it amiss. You have laid me under an everlasting debt of gratitude by your kindness andsolicitude. If, after this, you do not reject me but continue to regard me as worthy of yourhospitality , which I will spare no pains to deserve, I shall naturally be happy and count it a furthertoken of your kindness.Let the reader know that I could not have written such a letter in a moment. I must have draftedand redrafted it many times over. But it lifted a burden that was weighing me down. Almost byreturn post came her reply somewhat as follows:I have your frank letter. We were both very glad and had a hearty laugh over it. The untruth yousay you have been guilty of is pardonable. But it is well that you have acquainted us with the realstate of things. My invitation still stands and we shall certainly expect you next Sunday and lookforward to hearing all about your child-marriage and to the pleasure of laughing at your expense.Need I assure you that our friendship is not in the least affected by this incident?I thus purged myself of the canker of untruth, and I never thenceforward hesitated to talk of mymarried state wherever necessary.
  35. Chapter 20 ACQUAINTANCE WITH RELIGIONST owards the end of my second year in England I came across two Theosophists, brothers, andboth unmarried. They talked to me about the Gita. They were reading Sir Edwin Arnoldstranslation The Song Celestial and they invited me to read the original with them. I felt ashamed,as I had read the divine poem neither in Samskrit nor in Gujarati. I was constrained to tell themthat I had not read the Gita, but that I would gladly read it with them, and that though myknowledge of Samskrit was meagre, still I hoped to be able to understand the original to themeaning. I began reading the Gita with them. The verses in the second chapter If one Ponders onobjects of the sense, there springs Attraction; from attraction grows desire, Desire flames to fiercepassion, passion breeds Recklessness; then the memory all betrayed Lets noble purpose go, andsaps the mind, Till purpose, mind, and man are all undone. made a deep impression on my mind,and they still ring in my ears. The book struck me as one of priceless worth. The impression hasever since been growing on me with the result that I regard it today as the book par excellence forthe knowledge of Truth. It has afforded me invaluable help in my moments of gloom. I have readalmost all the English translations of it, and I regard Sir Edwin Arnolds as the best. He has beenfaithful to the text, and yet it does not read like a translation. Though I read the Gita with thesefriends, I cannot pretend to have studied it then. It was only after some years that it became abook of daily reading.The brothers also recommended The Light of Asia by Sir Edwin Arnold, whom I knew till then asthe author only of The Song Celestial, and I read it with even greater interest than I did theBhagavadgita. Once I had begun it I could not leave off. They also took me on one occasion tothe Blavatsky Lodge and introduced me to Madame Blavatsky and Mrs. Besant. The latter hadjust then joined the Theosophical Society, and I was following with great interest the controversyabout her conversion. The friends advised me to join the Society, but I politely declined saying,With my meagre knowledge of my own religion I do not want to belong to any religious body. Irecall having read, at the brothers instance, Madame Blavatskys Key to Theosophy. This bookstimulated in me the desire to read books on Hinduism, and disabused me of the notion fosteredby the missionaries that Hinduism was rife with superstition.About the same time I met a good Christian from Manchester in a vegetarian boarding house. Hetalked to me about Christianity. I narrated to him my Rajkot recollections. He was pained to hearthem. He said, I am a vegetarian. I do not drink. Many Christians are meat- eaters and drink, nodoubt; but neither meat-eating not drinking is enjoined by scripture. Do please read the Bible. Iaccepted his advice, and he got me a copy. I have a faint recollection that he himself used to sellcopies of the Bible, and I purchased from him an edition containing maps, concordance, andother aids. I began reading it, but I could not possibly read through the Old Testament. I read thebook of Genesis, and the chapters that followed invariably sent me to sleep. But just for the sakeof being able to say that I had read it, I plodded through the other books with much difficulty andwithout the least interest or understanding. I disliked reading the book of Numbers.But the New Testament produced a different impression, especially the Sermon on the Mountwhich went straight to my heart. I compared it with the Gita. The verses, But I say unto you, thatye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.And if any man take away thy coat let him have thy cloke too, delighted me beyond measure andput me in mind of Shamal Bhatts For a bowl of water, give a goodly meal etc. My young mindtried to unify the teaching of the Gita, The Light of Asia and the Sermon on the Mount. Thatrenunciation was the highest form of religion appealed to me greatly.
  36. This reading whetted my appetite for studying the lives of other religious teachers. A friendrecommended Carlyles Heroes and Hero- Worship. I read the chapter on the Hero as a prophetand learnt of the Prophets greatness and bravery and austere living.Beyond this acquaintance with religion I could not go at the moment, as reading for theexamination left me scarcely any time for outside subjects. But I took mental note of the fact that Ishould read more religious books and acquaint myself with all the principal religions.And how could I help knowing something of atheism too? Every Indian knew Bradlaughs nameand his so-called atheism. I read some book about it, the name of which I forget. It had no effecton me, for I had already crossed the Sahara of atheism. Mrs. Besant who was then very much inthe limelight, had turned to theism from atheism. I had read her book How I became aTheosophist.It was about this time that Bradlaugh died. He was buried in the Working Cemetery. I attendedthe funeral, as I believe every Indian residing in London did. A few clergymen also were presentto do him the last honours. On our way back from the funeral we had to wait at the station for ourtrain. A champion atheist from the crowd heckled one of these clergymen. Well sir, you believe inthe existence of God?I do, said the good man in a low tone.You also agree that the circumference of the Earth is 28,000 miles, dont you? said the atheistwith a smile of self-assurance. Indeed. Pray tell me then the size of your God and where he maybe?Well, if we but knew, He resides in the hearts of us both.Now, now, dont take me to be a child, said the champion with a triumphant look at us.The clergyman assumed a humble silence. This talk still further increased my prejudice againstatheism. Chapter 21 NIRBAL KE BAL RAMT hough I had acquired a nodding acquaintance with Hinduism and other religions of the world, Ishould have known that it would not be enough to save me in my trails. Of the thing that sustainshim through trials man has no inkling, much less knowledge, at the time. If an unbeliever, he willattribute his safety to chance. If a believer, he will say God saved him. He will conclude, as wellhe may, that his religious study or spiritual discipline was at the back of the state of grace withinhim. But in the hour of his deliverance he does not know whether his spiritual discipline orsomething else saves him. Who that has prided himself on his spiritual strength has not seen ithumbled to the dust? A knowledge of religion, as distinguished from experience, seems but chaffin such moments of trial.
  37. It was in England that I first discovered the futility of mere religious knowledge. How I was savedon previous occasions is more than I can say, for I was very young then; but now I was twentyand had gained some experience as husband and father.During the last year, as far as I can remember, of my stay in England, that is in 1890, there was aVegetarian Conference at Portsmouth to which an Indian friend and I were invited. Portsmouth isa sea-port with a large naval population. It has many houses with women of ill fame, women notactually prostitutes, but at the same time, not very scrupulous about their morals. We were put upin one of these houses. Needles to say, the Reception Committee did not know anything about it.It would have been difficult in a town like Portsmouth to find out which were good lodgings andwhich were bad for occasional travellers like us.We returned from the Conference in the evening. After dinner we sat down to play a rubber ofbridge, in which our landlady joined, as is customary in England even in respectable households.Every player indulges in innocent jokes as a matter of course, but here my companion and ourhostess began to make indecent ones as well. I did not know that my friend was an adept in theart. It captured me and I also joined in. Just when I was about to go beyond the limit, leaving thecards and the game to themselves. God through the good companion uttered the blessedwarning: Whence this devil in you, my boy? Be off, quick!I was ashamed. I took the warning and expressed within myself gratefulness to my friend.Remembering the vow I had taken before my mother, I fled from the scene. To my room I wentquaking, trembling, and with beating heart, like a quarry escaped from its pursuer.I recall this as the first occasion on which a woman, other than my wife, moved me to lust. Ipassed that night sleeplessly, all kinds of thoughts assailing me. Should I leave this house?Should I run away from the place? Where was I? What would happen to me if I had not my witsabout me? I decided to act thenceforth with great caution; not to leave the house, but somehowleave Portsmouth. The Conference was not to go on for more than two days, and I remember Ileft Portsmouth the next evening, my companion staying there some time longer.I did not then know the essence of religion or of God, and how He works in us. Only vaguely Iunderstood that God had saved me on that occasion. On all occasions of trial He has saved me. Iknow that the phrase God saved me has a deeper meaning for me today, and still I feel that Ihave not yet grasped its entire meaning. Only richer experience can help me to a fullerunderstanding. But in all my trials of a spiritual nature, as a lawyer, in conducting institutions, andin politics I can say that God saved me. When every hope is gone. When helpers fall andcomforts flee, I find that help arrives somehow, from I know not where. Supplication, worship,prayer are no superstition; they are acts more real than the acts of eating, drinking, sitting orwalking. It is no exaggeration to say that they alone are real, all else is unreal.Such worship or prayer is no flight of eloquence; it is no lip-homage. It springs from the heart. If,therefore, we achieve that purity of the heart when it is emptied of all but love, if we keep all thechords in proper tune, they trembling pass in music out of sight. Prayer needs no speech. It isitself independent of any sensuous effort. I have not the slightest doubt that prayer is an unfailingmeans of cleaning the heart of passions. But it must be combined with the utmost humility.
  38. Chapter 22 NARAYAN HEMCHANDRAJ ust about this time Narayan Hemchandra came to England. I had heard of him as a writer. Wemet at the house of Miss Manning of the National Indian Association. Miss Manning knew that Icould not make myself sociable. When I went to her place I used to sit tongue-tied, neverspeaking except when spoken to. She introduced me to Narayan Hemchandra. He did not knowEnglish. His dress was queer a clumsy pair of trousers, a wrinkled, dirty, brown coat after theParsi fashion, no necktie or collar, and a tasselled woolen cap. He grew a long beard.He was lightly built and short of stature. His round face was scarred with small-pox, and had anose which was neither pointed nor blunt. With his hand he was constantly turning over his beard.Such a queer-looking and queerly dressed person was bound to be singled out in fashionablesociety.I have heard a good deal about you, I said to him. I have also read some of your writings. Ishould be very pleased if you were kind enough to come to my place.Narayan Hemchandra had a rather hoarse voice. With a smile on his face he replied? Yes,where do you stay? In Store Street. Then we are neighbours. I want to learn English. Will youteach me? I shall be happy to teach you anything I can, and will try my best. If you like, I will goto your place.Oh, no. I shall come to you. I shall also bring with me a Translation Exercise Book. So we madean appointment. Soon we were close friends.Narayan Hemchandra was innocent of grammar. Horse was a verb with him and run a noun Iremember many such funny instances. But he was not to be baffled by his ignorance. My littleknowledge of grammar could make no impression on him. Certainly he never regarded hisignorance of grammar as a matter for shame.With perfect nonchalance he said: I have never felt the need of grammar in expressing mythoughts. Well, do you know Bengali? I know it. I have travelled in Bengal. It is I who have givenMaharshi Devendranath Tagores works to the Gujarati speaking world. And I wish to translateinto Gujarati the treasures of many other translations. I always content myself with bringing outthe spirit. Others, with their better knowledge, may be able to do more in future. But I am quitesatisfied with what I have achieved without the help of grammar. I know Marathi, Hindi, Bengali,and now I have begun to know English. What I want is a copious vocabulary. And do you thinkmy ambition ends here? No fear. I want to go to France and learn French. I am told that languagehas an extensive literature. I shall go to Germany also, if possible, and there learn German. Andthus he would talk on unceasingly. He had a boundless ambition for learning languages and forforeign travel.Then you will go to America also?Certainly. How can I return to India without having seen the New World?But where will you find the money?
  39. What do I need money for? I am not a fashionable fellow like you. The minimum amount of foodand the minimum amount of clothing suffice for me. And for this what little I get out of my booksand from my friends is enough. I always travel third class. While going to America also I shalltravel on deck.Narayan Hemchandras simplicity was all his own, and his frankness was on a par with it. Of pridehe had not the slightest trace, excepting, of course, a rather undue regard for his own capacity asa writer.We met daily. There was a considerable amount of similarity between our thoughts and actions.Both of us were vegetarians. We would often have our lunch together. This was the time when Ilived on 17s. a week and cooked for myself. Sometimes when I would go to his room, andsometimes he would come to mine. I cooked in the English style. Nothing but Indian style wouldsatisfy him. He would not do without dal. I would make soup of carrots etc., and he would pity mefor my taste. Once he somehow hunted out mung cooked it and brought it to my place. I ate itwith delight. This led on to a regular system of exchange between us. I would take my delicaciesto him and he would bring his to me.Cardinal Mannings name was then on every lip. The dock labourers strike had come to an earlytermination owing to the efforts of John Burns and Cardinal Manning. I told Narayan Hemchandraof Disraelis tribute to the Cardinals simplicity. Then I must see the sage, said he.He is a big man. How do you expect to meet him?Why? I know how. I must get you to write to him in my name. Tell him I am an author and that Iwant to congratulate him personally on his humanitarian work, and also say that I shall have totake you as interpreter as I do not know English.I wrote a letter to that effect. In two or three days came Cardinal Mannings card in reply giving usan appointment. So we both called on the Cardinal. I put on the usual visiting suit. NarayanHemchandra was the same as ever, in the same coat and the same trousers. I tried to make funof this, but he laughed me out and said:You civilized fellows are all cowards. Great men never look at a persons exterior. They think ofhis heart.We entered the Cardinals mansion. As soon as we were seated, a thin, tall, old gentleman madehis appearance, and shook hands with us. Narayan Hemchandra thus gave his greetings:I do not want to take up your time. I had heard a lot about you and I felt I should come and thankyou for the good work you done for the strikers. It has been my custom to visit the sages of theworld and that is why I have put you to this trouble.This was of course my translation of that he spoke in Gujarati.I am glad you have come. I hope your stay in London will agree with you and that you will get intouch with people here. God bless you.With these words the Cardinal stood up and said good-bye.Once Narayan Hemchandra came to my place in a shirt and dhoti. The good landlady opened thedoor, came running to me in a fright this was a new landlady who did not know NarayanHemchandra and said: A sort of a madcap wants to see you. I went to the door and to my
  40. surprise found Narayan Hemchandra. I was shocked. His face, however, showed nothing but hisusual smile.But did not the children in the street rag you?Well, they ran after me, but I did not mind them and they were quiet.Narayan Hemchandra went to Paris after a few months stay in London. He began studyingFrench and also translating French books. I knew enough French to revise his translation, so hegave it to me to read. It was not a translation, it was the substance.Finally he carried out his determination to visit America. It was with great difficulty that hesucceeded in securing a duck ticket. While in the United States he was prosecuted for beingindecently dressed, as he once went out in a shirt and dhoti. I have a recollection that he wasdischarged. Chapter 23 THE GREAT EXHIBITIONT here was a great Exhibition at Paris in 1890. I had read about its elaborate preparations, and Ialso had a keen desire to see Paris. So I thought I had better combine two things in one and gothere at this juncture. A particular attraction of the Exhibition was the Eiffel Tower, constructedentirely of iron, and nearly 1,000 feet high. There were of course many other things of interest,but the Tower was the chief one, inasmuch as it had been supposed till then that a structure ofthat height could not safely stand.I had heard of a vegetarian restaurant in Paris. I engaged a room there and stayed seven days. Imanaged everything very economically, both the journey to Paris and the sight-seeing there. ThisI did mostly on foot and with the help of a map of Paris, as also a map of the guide to theExhibition. These were enough to direct one to the main streets and chief places of interest.I remember nothing of the Exhibition excepting its magnitude and variety. I have fair recollectionof the Eiffel Tower as I ascended it twice or thrice. There was a restaurant on the first platform,and just for the satisfaction of being able to say that I had had my lunch at a great height, I threwaway seven shillings on it.The ancient churches of Paris are still in my memory. Their grandeur and their peacefulness areunforgettable. The wonderful construction of Notre Dame and the elaborate decoration of theinterior with its beautiful sculptures cannot be forgotten. I felt then that those who expendedmillions on such divine cathedrals could not but have the love of God in their hearts.I had read a lot about the fashions and frivolity of Paris. These were in evidence in every street,but the churches stood noticeably apart from these scenes. A man would forget the outside noiseand bustle as soon as he entered one of these churches. His manner would change, he wouldbehave with dignity and reverence as he passed someone kneeling before the image of theVirgin. The feeling I had then has since been growing on me, that all this kneeling and prayercould not be mere superstition; the devout souls kneeling before the Virgin could not be
  41. worshipping mere marble. They were fired with genuine devotion and they worshipped not stone,but the divinity of which it was symbolic. I have an impression that I felt then that by this worshipthey were not detracting from, but increasing, the glory of God.I must say a word about the Eiffel Tower. I do not know what purpose it serves today. But I thenheard it greatly disparaged as well as praised. I remember that Tolstoy was the chief amongthose who disparaged it. He said that the Eiffel Tower was a monument of mans folly, not of hiswisdom. Tobacco, he argued, was the worst of all intoxicants, inasmuch as a man addicted to itwas tempted to commit crimes which a drunkard never dared to do; liquor made a man mad, buttobacco clouded his intellect and made him build castles in the air. The Eiffel Tower was one ofthe creations of a man under such influence. There is no art about the Eiffel Tower. In no way canit be said to have contributed to the real beauty of the Exhibition. Men flocked to see it andascended it as it was a novelty and of unique dimensions. It was the toy of the Exhibition. So longas we are children we are attracted by toys, and the Tower was a good demonstration of the factthat we are all children attracted by trinkets. That may be claimed to be the purpose served by theEiffel Tower. Chapter 24 CALLED-BUT THEN ?I have deferred saying anything up to now about the purpose for which I went to England, viz.being called to the bar. It is time to advert to it briefly.There were two conditions which had to be fulfilled before a student was formally called to thebar: keeping terms, twelve terms equivalent to about three years; and passing examinations.Keeping terms meant eating ones terms, i.e. attending at least six out of about twenty fourdinners in a term. Eating did not mean actually partaking of the dinner, it meant reporting oneselfat the fixed hours and remaining present throughout the dinner. Usually of course every one ateand drank the good commons and choice wines provided. A dinner cost from two and six to threeand six, that is from two to three rupees. This was considered moderate, inasmuch as one had topay that same amount for wines alone if one dined at a hotel. To us in India it is a matter forsurprise, if we are not civilized, that the cost of drink should exceed the cost of food. The firstrevelation gave me a great shock, and I wondered how people had the heart to throw away somuch money on drink. Later I came to understand. I often ate nothing at these dinners, for thethings that I might eat were only bread, boiled potato and cabbage. In the beginning I did not eatthese, as I did not like them; and later, when I began to relish them, I also gained the courage toask for other dishes.The dinner provided for the benchers used to be better than that for the students. A Parsi student,who was also a vegetarian, and I applied, in the interests of vegetarianism, for the vegetariancourses which were served to the benchers. The application was granted, and we began to getfruits and other vegetables from the benchers table.Two bottles of wine allowed to each group of four, and as I did not touch them, I was ever indemand to form a quarter, so that three might empty two bottles. And there was a grand night ineach term when extra wines. I was therefore specially requested to attend and was in greatdemand on that grand night.
  42. I could see then, nor have I seen since, how these dinners qualified the students better for thebar. There was once a time when only a few students used to attend these dinners and thus therewere opportunities for talks between them and the benchers, and speeches were also made.These occasions helped to give them knowledge of the world with a sort of polish and refinement,and also improved their power of speaking. No such thing was possible in my time, as thebenchers had a table all to themselves. The institution had gradually lost all its meaning butconservative England retained it nevertheless.The curriculum of study was easy, barristers being humorously known as dinner barristers.Everyone knew that the examinations had practically no value. In my time there were two, one inRoman Law and the other in Common Law. There were regular text-books prescribed for theseexaminations which could be taken in compartments, but scarcely any one read them. I haveknown many to pass the Roman Law examination by scrambling through notes on Roman Law ina couple of weeks, and the Common Law examination by reading notes on the subject in two orthree months. Question papers were easy and examiners were generous. The percentage ofpasses in the Roman Law examination used to be 95 to 99 and of those in the final examination75 or even more. There was thus little fear of being plucked, and examinations were held notonce but four times in the year. They could not be felt as a difficulty.But I succeeded in turning them into one. I felt that I should read all the text-books. It was a fraud,I thought, not to read these books. I invested much money in them. I decided to read Roman Lawin Latin. The Latin which I had acquired in the London Matriculation stood me in good stead. Andall this reading was not without its value later on in South Africa, where Roman Dutch is thecommon law. The reading of Justinian, therefore, helped me a great deal in understanding theSouth African law.It took me nine months of fairly hard labour to read through the Common Law of England. ForBrooms Common Law, a big but interesting volume, took up a good deal of time. Snells Equitywas full of interest, but a bit hard to understand. White and Tudors LeadingCases, from whichcertain cases were prescribed, was full of interest and instruction. I read also with interestWilliams and Edwards Real Property, and Goodeves Personal Property. Williams book read likea novel. The one book I remember to have read on my return to India, with the same unflagginginterest, was Maynes Hindu Law. But it is out of place to talk here of Indian law-books.I passed my examinations, was called to the bar on the 10th of June 1891, and enrolled in theHigh Court on the 11th. On the 12th sailed for home.But notwithstanding my study there was no end to my helplessness and fear. I did not feel myselfqualified to practise law.But a separate chapter is needed to describe this helplessness of mine. Chapter 25 MY HELPLESSNESSIt was easy to be called, but it was difficult to practise at the bar. I had read the laws, but notlearnt how to practise law. I had read with interest Legal Maxims, but did not know how to applythem in my profession. Sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas (Use your property in such a way as
  43. not to damage that of others) was one of them, but I was at a loss to know how one could employthis maxim for the benefit of ones client. I had read all the leading cases on this maxim, but theygave me no confidence in the application of it in the practice of law.Besides, I had learnt nothing at all of Indian law. I had not the slightest idea of Hindu andMahomedan Law. I had not even learnt how to draft a plaint, and felt completely at sea. I hadheard of Sir Pherozeshah Mehta as one who roared like a lion in law courts. How, I wondered,could he have learnt the art in England? It was out of the question for me ever to acquire his legalacumen, but I had serious misgivings as to whether I should be able even to earn a living by heprofession.I was torn with these doubts and anxieties to some of my friends. One of them suggested that Ishould seek Dadabhai Naorojis advice. I have already said that, when I went to England, Ipossessed a note of introduction to Dadabhai. I availed myself of it very late. I thought I had noright to trouble such a great man for an interview. Whenever an address by him was announced, Iwould attend it, listen to him from a corner of the hall, and go away after having feasting my eyesand ears. In order to come in close touch with the students he had founded an association, I usedto attend its meeting, and rejoiced at Dadabhais solicitude for the students, and the lattersrespect for him in course of time I mustered up courage to present to him the note of introduction.He said: You can come and have my advice whenever you like. But I never availed myself of hisoffer. I thought it wrong to trouble him without the most pressing necessity. Therefore I dared notventure to accept my friends advice to submit my difficulties to Dadabhai at that time. I forgetnow whether it was the same friend or someone else who recommended me to meet Mr.Frederick Pincutt. He was a Conservative, but his affection for Indian students was pure andunselfish. Many students sought his advice and I also applied to him for an appointment, whichhe granted. I can never forget that interview. He greeted me as a friend. He laughed away mypessimism. Do you think, he said, that everyone must be a Pherozeshah Mehta? Pherozeshahsskill to be an ordinary lawyer. Common honesty and industry are enough to enable him to make aliving. All cases are not complicated. Well, let me know the extent of your general reading.When I acquainted him with my little stock of reading, he was, as I could see, rather disappointed.But it was only for a moment. Soon his face beamed with a pleasing smile and he said, Iunderstand your trouble. Your general reading is meagre. You have no knowledge of the world, asine qua non for a vakil. You have not even read the history of India. A vakil should know humannature. He should be able to read a mans character from his face. And every Indian ought toknow Indian history. This has no connection with the practice of law, but you ought to have thatknowledge. I see that you have not even read kaye and Mallesons history of the Mutiny of 1857.Get hold of that at once and also read two more books to understand human nature. These werelavators and Shemmelpennicks books on physiognomy.I was extremely grateful to this venerable friend. In his presence I found all my fear gone, but assoon as I left him I began to worry again. To know a man from his face was the question thathaunted me, as I thought of the two books on my way home. The next day I purchased Lavatorsbook. Shemmelpennicks was not available at the shop. I read Lavators book and found it moredifficult than Snells Equity, and scarcely interesting. I studied Shakespeares physiognomy, butdid not acquire the knack of finding out the Shakespeares walking up and down the streets ofLondon.Lavators book did not add to my knowledge. Mr. Pincutts advice did me very little direct service,but his kindliness stood me in good stead. His smiling open face stayed in my memory, and Itrusted his advice that Pherozeshah Mehtas acumen, memory and ability were not essential tothe making of a successful lawyer; honesty and industry were enough. And as I had a fair shareof these last I felt somewhat reassured.
  44. I could not read Kaye and Mallesons volumes in England, but I did so in South Africa as I hadmade a point of reading them at the first opportunity.Thus with just a little leaven of hope mixed with my despair, I landed at Bombay from S.S.Assam. The sea was rough in the harbour, and I had to reach the quay in a launch. Chapter 26 RAYCHANDBHAII said in the last chapter that the sea was rough in Bombay harbour, not an unusual thing in theArabian Sea in June and July. It had been choppy all the way from Aden. Almost everypassenger was sick; I alone was in perfect form, staying on deck to see the stormy surge, andenjoying the splash of the waves. At breakfast there would be just one or two people besidesmyself, eating their oatmeal porridge from plates carefully held in their laps, lest the porridge itselffind its place there.The outer storm was to me a symbol of the inner. But even as the former left me unperturbed, Ithink I can say the same thing about the latter. There was the trouble with the caste that was toconfront me. I have already adverted to my helplessness in starting on my profession. And then,as I was a reformer. I was taxing myself as to how best to begin certain reforms. But there waseven more in store for me than I knew.My elder brother had come to meet me at the dock. He had already made the acquaintance of Dr.Mehta and his elder brother and as Dr. Mehta insisted on putting me up at his house, we wentthere. Thus the acquaintance begun in England continued in India and ripened into a permanentfriendship between the two families.I was pining to see my mother. I did not know that she was no more in the flesh to receive meback into her bosom. The sad news was now given me, and I underwent the usual ablution. Mybrother had kept me ignorant of her death, which took place whilst I was still in England. Hewanted to spare me the blow in a foreign land. The news, however, was none the less a severeshock to me. But I must not dwell upon it. My grief was even greater than over my fathers death.Most of my cherished hopes were shattered. But I remember that I did not give myself up to anywild expression of grief. I could even check the tears, and took to life just as though nothing hadhappened.Dr. Mehta introduced me to several friends, one of them being his brother Shri RevashankarJagjivan, with whom there grew up a lifelong friendship. But the introduction that I needparticularly take note of was the one to the poet Raychand or Rajchandra, the son-in-law of anelder brother of Dr. Mehta, and partner of the firm of jewellers conducted in the name ofRevashankar Jagjivan. He was not above twenty-five then, but my first meeting with himconvinced me that he was a man of great character and learning. He was also known asShatavadhani (one having the faculty of remembering or attending to a hundred thingssimultaneously), and Dr. Mehta recommended me to see some of his memory feats. I exhaustedmy vocabulary of all the European tongues I knew, and asked the poet to repeat the words, Hedid so in the precise order in which I had given them. I envied his gift without, however, comingunder its spell. The thing that did cast its spell over me I came to know afterwards. This was hiswide knowledge of the scriptures, his spotless character, and his burning passion for self-
  45. realization. I saw later that this last was the only thing for which he lived. The following lines ofMuktanand were always on his lips and engraved on the tablets of his heart:I shall think myself blessed only when I see Him in every one of my daily acts; Verily He is thethread, Which supports Muktanands life.Raychandbhais commercial transactions covered hundreds of thousands. He was a connoisseurof pearls and diamonds. No knotty business problem was too difficult for him. But all these thingswere not the centre round which his life revolved. That centre was the passion to see God face toface. Amongst the things on his business table there were invariably to be found some religiousbook and his diary. The moment he finished his business he opened the religious book or thediary. Much of his published writings is a reproduction from this diary. The man who, immediatelyon finishing his talk about weighty business transaction, began to write about the hidden things ofthe spirit could evidently not be a businessman at all, but a real seeker after Truth. And I saw himthus absorbed in godly pursuits in the midst of business, not once or twice, but very often. I neversaw him lose his state of equipoise. There was no business or other selfish tie that bound him tome, and yet I enjoyed the closest association with him. I was but a briefless barrister then, andyet whenever I saw him he would engage me in conversation of a seriously religious nature.Though I was then groping and could not be said to have any serious interest in religiousdiscussion, Still I found his talk of absorbing interest. I have since met many a religious leader orteacher. I have tried to meet the heads of various faiths, and I must say that no one else has evermade on me the impression that Raychandbhai did. His words went straight home to me. Hisintellect compelled as great a regard from me as his moral earnestness, and deep down in mewas the conviction that he would never willingly lead me astray and would always confide to mehis innermost thoughts. In my moments of spiritual crisis, therefore, he was my refuge.And yet in spite of this regard for him I could not enthrone him in my heart as my Guru. Thethrone has remained vacant and my search still continues.I believe in the Hindu theory of Guru and his importance in spiritual realization. I think there is agreat deal of truth in the doctrine that true knowledge is impossible without a Guru. An imperfectteacher may be tolerable in mundane matters, but not in spiritual matters. Only a perfect gnanideserves to be enthroned as Guru. There must, therefore, be ceaseless striving after perfection.For one gets the Guru that one deserves. Infinite striving after perfection is ones right. It is itsown reward. The rest is in the hands of God.Thus, though I could not place Raychandbhai on the throne of my heart as Guru, we shall seehow he was, on many occasions, my guide and helper. Three moderns have left a deep impresson my life, and captivated me: Raychandbhai by his living contact; Tolstoy by his book, TheKingdom of God is Within You; and Ruskin by his Unto this Last. But of these more in their properplace. Chapter 27 HOW I BEGAN LIFEMy elder brother had built high hopes on me. The desire for wealth and name and fame wasgreat in him. He had a big heart, generous to a fault. This, combined with his simple nature, hadattracted to him many friends, and through them he expected to get me briefs. He had also
  46. assumed that I should have a swinging practice and had, in that expectation, allowed thehousehold expenses to become top-heavy. He had also left no stone unturned in preparing thefield for my practice.The storm in my caste over my foreign voyage was still brewing. It had divided the caste into twocamps, one of which immediately readmitted me, while the other was bent on keeping me out. Toplease the former my brother took me to Nasik before going to Rajkot, gave me a bath in thesacred river and, on reaching Rajkot. gave a caste dinner. I did not like all this. But my brotherslove for me was boundless, and my devotion to him was in proportion to it, and so I mechanicallyacted as he wished, taking his will to be law. The trouble about readmission to the caste was thuspractically over.I never tried to seek admission to the section that had refused it. Nor did I feel even mentalresentment against any of the headmen of that section. Some of these regarded me with dislike,but I scrupulously avoided hurting their feelings. I fully respected the caste regulations aboutexcommunication. According to these, none of my relations, including my father-in-law andmother-in-law, and even my sister and brother-in-law, could entertain me; and I would not somuch as drink water at their houses. They were prepared secretly to evade the prohibition, but itwent against the grain with me to do a thing in secret that I would not do in public.The result of my scrupulous conduct was that I never had occasion to be troubled by the caste;nay, I have experienced nothing but affection and generosity from the general body of the sectionthat still regards me as excommunicated. They have even helped me in my work, without everexpecting me to do anything for the caste. It is my conviction that all these good things are due tomy non-resistance. Had I agitated for being admitted to the caste, had I attempted to divide it intomore camps, had I provoked the castemen, they would surely have retaliated, and instead ofsteering clear of the storm, I should on arrival from England, have found myself in a whirlpool ofagitation, and perhaps a party to dissimulation.My relations with my wife were still not as I desired. Even my stay in England had not cured me ofjealousy. I continued my squeamishness and suspiciousness in respect of every little thing, andhence all my cherished desires remained unfulfilled. I had decided that my wife should learnreading and writing and that I should help her in her studies, but my lust came in the way and shehad to suffer for my own shortcoming. Once I went the length of sending her away to her fathershouse, and consented to receive her back only after I had made her thoroughly miserable. I sawlater that all this was pure folly on my part.I had planned reform in the education of children, My brother had children, and my own childwhich I had left at home when I went to England was now a boy of nearly four. It was my desire toteach these little ones physical exercise and make them hardy, and also to give them the benefitof my personal guidance. In this I had my brothers support and I succeeded in my efforts more orless. I very much liked the company of children, and the habit of playing and joking with them hasstayed with me till today. I have ever since thought that I should make a good teacher of children.The necessity for food reform was obvious. Tea and coffee had already found their place in thehouse. My brother had thought it fit to keep some sort of English atmosphere ready for me on myreturn, and to that end, crockery and such other things, which used to be kept in the house onlyfor special occasions, were now in general use. My reforms put the finishing touch. I introducedoatmeal porridge, and cocoa was to replace tea and coffee. But in truth it became an addition totea and coffee. Boots and shoes were already there. I completed the Europeanization by addingthe European dress.Expenses thus went up. New things were added every day. We had succeeded in tying a whiteelephant at our door. But how was the wherewithal to be found? To start practice in Rajkot would
  47. have meant sure ridicule. I had hardly the knowledge of a qualified vakil and yet I expected to bepaid ten times his fee! No client would be fool enough to engage me. And even if such a one wasto be found, should I add arrogance and fraud to my ignorance, and increase the burden of debt Iowed to the world?Friends advised me to go to Bombay for some time in order to gain experience of the High Court,to study Indian law and to try get what briefs I could. I took up the suggestion and went.In Bombay I started a household with a cook as incompetent as myself. He was a Brahman. I didnot treat him as a servant but as a member of the household. He would pour water over himselfbut never wash. His dhoti was dirty, as also his sacred thread, and he was completely innocent ofthe scriptures. But how was I to get a better cook?Well, Ravishankar, (for that was his name), I would ask him, you may not know cooking, butsurely you must know your sandhya (daily worship), etc.#Sandhya#, sir! the plough is our sandhya and the spade our daily ritual. That is the type ofBrahman I am. I must live on your mercy. Otherwise agriculture is of course there for me.So I had to be Ravishankars teacher. Time I had enough. I began to do half the cooking myselfand introduced the English experiments in vegetarian cookery. I invested in a stove, and withRavishankar began to run the kitchen. I had no scruples about interdining, Ravishankar too cameto have none, and so we went on merrily together. There was only one obstacle. Ravishankarhad sworn to remain dirty and to keep the food unclean!But it was impossible for me to get along in Bombay for more than four or five months, therebeing no income to square with the ever- increasing expenditure.This was how I began life. I found the barristers profession a bad job - much show and littleknowledge. I felt a crushing sense of my responsibility. Chapter 28 THE FIRST CASEWhile in Bombay, I began, on the one hand, my study of Indian law and, on the other, myexperiments in dietetics in which Virchand Gandhi, a friend, joined me. My brother, for his part,was trying his best to get me briefs.The study of Indian law was a tedious business. The Civil Procedure Code I could in no way geton with. Not so however, with the Evidence Act. Virchand Gandhi was reading for the SolicitorsExamination and would tell me all sorts of stories about barristers and vakils. Sir Pherozeshahsability, he would say, lies in his profound knowledge of law. He has the Evidence Act by heartand knows all the cases on the thirty-second section. Badruddin Tyabjis wonderful power ofargument inspires the judges with awe.The stories of stalwarts such as these would unnerve me.
  48. It is not unusual, he would add, for a barrister to vegetate for five or seven years. Thats why Ihave signed the articles for solicitorship. You should count yourself luckly if you can paddle yourown canoe in three years time.Expenses were mounting up every month. To have a baristers board outside the house, whilststill preparing for the barristers profession inside, was a thing to which I could not reconcilemyself. Hence I could not give undivided attention to my studies. I developed some liking for theEvidence Act and read Maynes Hindu Law with deep interest, but I had not the courage toconduct a case. I was helpless beyond words, even as the bride come fresh to her father-in- lawshouse!About this time, I took up the case of one Mamibai. It was a small cause. You will have to paysome commission to the tout, I was told. I emphatically declined.But even that great criminal lawyer Mr. So-and-So, who makes three to four thousand a month,pays commission!I do not need to emulate him, I rejoined. I should be content with Rs. 300 a month. Father didnot get more.But those days are gone. Expenses in Bombay have gone up frightfully. You must bebusinesslike.I was adamant. I gave no commission, but got Mamibais case all the same. It was an easy case.I charged Rs. 30 for my fees. The case was no likely to last longer than a day.This was my debut in the Small Causes Court. I appeared for the defendant and had thus tocross-examine the plaintiffs witnesses. I stood up, but my heart sank into my boots. My head wasreeling and I felt as though the whole court was doing likewise. I could think of no question to ask.The judge must have laughed, and the vakils no doubt enjoyed the spectacle. But I was pastseeing anything. I sat down and told the agent that I could not conduct the case, that he hadbetter engage Patel and have the fee back from me. Mr. Patel was duly engaged for Rs. 51. Tohim, of course, the case was childs play.I hastened from the Court, not knowing whether my client won or lost her case, but I wasashamed of myself, and decided not to take up any more cases until I had courage enough toconduct them. Indeed I did not go to Court again until I went to South Africa. There was no virtuein my decision. I had simply made a virtue of necessity. There would be no one so foolish as toentrust his case to me, only to lose it!But there was another case in store for me at Bombay. It was a memorial to be drafted. A poorMussalmans land was confiscated in Porbandar. He approched me as the worthy son of a worthyfather. His case appeared to be weak, but I consented to draft a memorial for him, the cost ofprinting to be borne by him. I drafted it and read it out to friends. They approved of it, and that tosome extent made me feel confident that I was qualified enough to draft a memorial, as indeed Ireally was.My business could flourish if I drafted memorials without any fees. But that would being no grist tothe mill. So I thought I might take up a teachers job. My knowledge of English was good enough,and I should have loved to teach English to Matriculation boys in some school. In this way I couldhave met part at least of the expenses. I came across an advertisement in the papers: Wanted,an English teacher to teach one hour daily. Salary Rs 75. The advertisment was from a famoushigh school. I applied for the post and was called for an interview. I went there in high spirits, butwhen the principal found that I was not a graduate, he regretfully refused me.
  49. But I have passed the London Matriculation with Latin as my second language.True but we want a graduate.There was no help for it. I wrung my hands in despair. My brother also felt much worried. We bothcame to the conclusion that it was no use spending more time in Bombay. I should settle inRajkot where my brother, himself a petty pleader, could give me some work in the shape ofdrafting applications and memorials. And then as there was already a household at Rajkot, thebreaking up of the one at Bombay meant a considerable saving. I liked the suggestion. My littleestablishment was thus closed after a stay of six months in Bombay.I used to attend High Court daily whilst in Bombay, but I cannot say that I learnt anything there. Ihad not sufficient knowledge to learn much. Often I could not follow the case and dozed off.There were others also who kept me company in this, and thus lightened my load of shame. Aftera time, I even lost the sense of shame, as I learnt to think that it was fashionable to doze in theHigh Court.If the present generation has also its briefless barristers like me in Bombay, I would commendthem a little practical precept about living. Although I lived in Girgaum I hardly ever toa carriage ora tramcar. I had made it a rule to walk to the High Court. It took me quite forty- five minutes, andof course I invariably returned home on foot. I had inured myself to the heat of the sun. This walkto and from the Court saved a fair amount of money, and when many of my friends in Bombayused to fall ill, I do not remember having once had an illness. Even when I began to earn money, Ikept up the practice of walking to and from the office, and I am still reaping the benefits of thatpractice. Chapter 29 THE FIRST SHOCKDisappointed, I left Bombay and went to Rajkot where I set up my own office. Here I got alongmoderately well. Drafting applications and memorials brought me in, on an average, Rs 300 amonth. For this work I had to thank influence rather than my own ability, for my brothers partnerhad a settled practice. All applications etc. which were, really or to his mind of an importantcharacter, he sent to big barristers. To my lot fell the applications to be drafted on behalf of hispoor clients.I must confess that here I had to compromise the principle of giving no commission, which inBombay I had so scrupulously observed. I was told that conditions in the two cases weredifferent; that whilst in Bombay commissions had to be paid to touts, here they had to be paid tovakils who briefed you; and that here as in Bombay all barristers, without exception, paid apercentage of their fees as commission. The argument of my brother was, for me, unanswerable.You see, said he, that I am in partnership with another vakil. I shall always be inclined to makeover to you all our cases with which you can possibly deal, and if you refuse to pay a commissionto my partner, you are sure to embarrass me. As you and I have a joint establishment, your feecomes to our common purse, and I automatically get a share. But what about my partner?Supposing he gave the same case to some other barrister he would certainly get his commissionfrom him. I was taken in by this plea, and felt that, if I was to practise as a barrister, I could notpress my principle regarding commissions in such cases. That is how I argued with myself, or to
  50. put it bluntly, how I deceived myself. Let me add, however, that I do not remember ever to havegiven a commission in respect of any other case.Though I thus began to make both ends meet, I got the first shock of my life about this time. I hadheard what a British officer was like, but up to now had never been face to face with one.My brother had been secretary and adviser to the late Ranasaheb of Porbandar before he wasinstalled on his gadi and hanging over his head at this time was the charge of having given wrongadvice when in that office. The matter had gone to the Political Agent who was prejudiced againstmy brother. Now I had known this officer when in England, and he may be said to have beenfairly friendly to me. My brother thought that I should avail myself of the friendship and, putting ina good word on his behalf, try to disabuse the Political Agent of his prejudice. I did not at all likethis idea. I should not, I thought, try to take advantage of a trifling acquaintance in England. If mybrother was really at fault, what use was my recommendation? If he was innocent, he shouldsubmit a petition in the proper course and, confident of his innocence, face the result. My brotherdid not relish this advice. You do not know Kathiawad, he said, and you have yet to know theworld. Only influence counts here. It is not proper for you, a brother, to shirk your duty, when youcan clearly put in a good word about me to an officer you know.I could not refuse him, so I went to the officer much against my will. I knew I had no right toapproach him and was fully conscious that I was compromising my self-respect. But I sought anappointment and got it. I reminded him of the old acquaintance, but I immediately saw thatKathiawad was different from England; that an officer on leave was not the same as an officer onduty. The political Agent owned the acquaintance, but the reminder seemed to stiffen him. Surelyyou have not come here to abuse that acquaintance, have you? appeared to be the meaning ofthat stiffness, and seemed to be written on his brow. Nevertheless I opened my case. The sahibwas impatient. Your brother is an intriguer. I want to hear nothing more from you. I have no time.If your brother has anything to say, let him apply through the proper channel. The answer wasenough, was perhaps deserved. But selfishness is blind. I went on with my story. The sahib gotup and said: You must go now.But please hear me out, said I. That made him more angry. He called his peon and ordered himto show me the door. I was still hesitating when the peon came in, placed his hands on myshoulders and put me out of the room.The sahib went away as also the peon, and I departed, fretting and fuming. I at once wrote outand sent over a note to this effect: You have insulted me. You have assaulted me through yourpeon. If you make no amends, I shall have to proceed against you.Quick came the answer through his sowar:You were rude to me. I asked you to go and you would not. I had no option but to order my peonto show you the door. Even after he asked you to leave the office, you did not do so. He thereforehad to use just enough force to send you out. You are at liberty to proceed as you wish.With this answer in my pocket, I came home crest fallen, and told my brother all that hadhappened. He was grieved, but was at a loss as to how to console me. He spoke to his vakilfriends. For I did not know how to proceed against the sahib. Sir Pherozeshah Mehta happenedto be in Rajkot at this time, having come down from Bombay for some case. But how could ajunior barrister like me dare to see him? So I sent him the papers of my case, through the vakilwho had engaged him, and begged for his advice. Tell Gandhi, he said, such things are thecommon experience of many vakils and barristers. He is still fresh from England, and hot-blooded. He does not know British officers. If he would earn something and have an easy time
  51. here, let him tear up the note and pocket the insult. He will gain nothing by proceeding against thesahib, and on the contrary will very likely ruin himself. Tell him he has yet to know life.The advice was as bitter as poison to me, but I had to swallow it. I pocketed the insult, but alsoprofited by it, Never again shall I place myself in such a false position, never again shall I try toexploit friendship in this way, said I to myself, and since then I have been guilty of a breach ofthat determination. This shock changed the course of my life. Chapter 30 PREPARING FOR SOUTH AFRICAI was no doubt at fault in having gone to that officer. But his impatience and overbearing angerwere out of all proportion to my mistake. It did not warrant expulsion. I can scarcely have taken upmore than five minutes of his time. But he simply could not endure my talking. He could havepolitely asked me to go, but power had intoxicated him to an inordinate extent. Later I came toknow that patience was not one of the virtues of this officer. It was usual for him to insult hisvisitors. The slightest unpleasantness was sure to put the sahib out.Now most of my work would naturally be in his court. It was beyond me to conciliate him. I had nodesire to curry favour with him, Indeed, having once threatened to proceed against him, I did notlike to remain silent.Meanwhile I began to learn something of the petty politics of the country. Kathiawad, being aconglomeration of small states, naturally had its rich crop of politicals. Petty intrigues betweenstates, and intrigues of officers for power were the order of the day. Princes were always at themercy of others and ready to lend their ears to sycophants. Even the sahibs peon had to becajoled, and the sahibs shirastedar was more than his master, as he was his eyes, his ears andhis interpreter. The shirastedars will was law, and his income was always reputed to be morethan the sahibs. This may have been an exaggeration, but he certainly lived beyond his salary.This atmosphere appeared to me to be poisonous, and how to remain unscathed was a perpetualproblem for me.I was thoroughly depressed and my brother clearly saw it. We both felt that, if I could securesome job, I should be free from this atmosphere of intrigue. But without intrigue a ministership orjudgeship was out of the question. And the quarrel with the sahib stood in the way of my practice.Probandar was then under administration, and I had some work there in the shape of securingmore powers for the prince. Also I had to see the Administrator in respect of the heavy vighoti(land rent) exacted from the Mers. This officer, though an Indian, was, I found, one better than thesahib in arrogance. He was able, but the ryots appeared to me to be none the better off for hisability. I succeeded in securing a few more powers for the Rana, but hardly any relief for theMers. It struck me that their cause was not even carefully gone into.So even in this mission I was comparatively disappointed. I thought justice was not done to myclients, but I had not the means to secure it. At the most I could have appealed to the PoliticalAgent or to the Governor who would have dismissed the appeal saying, We decline to interfere.
  52. If there had been any rule or regulation governing such decisions, it would have been something,but here the sahibs will was law.I was exasperated.In the meantime a Meman firm from Porbandar wrote to my brother making the following offer:We have business in South Africa. Ours is a big firm, and we have a big case there in the Court,our claim being £ 40,000. It has been going on for a long time. We have engaged the services ofthe best vakils and barristers. If you sent your brother there, he would be useful to us and also tohimself. He would be able to instruct our counsel better than ourselves. And he would have theadvantage of seeing a new part of the world, and of making new acquaintances.My brother discussed the proposition with me. I could not clearly make out whether I had simplyto instruct the counsel or to appear in court. But I was tempted.My brother introduced me to the late Sheth Abdul Karim Jhaveri a partner of Dada Abdulla & Co;the firm in question. It wont be a difficult job the Sheth assured me. We have big Europeans asour friends, whose acquaintance you will make. You can be useful to us our shop. Much of ourcorrespondence is in English and you can help us with that too. You will, of course, be our guestand hence will have no expense whatever.How long do you require my services? I asked. And what will be the payment?Not more than a year. We will pay you a first class return fare and a sum of £ 105, all found.This was hardly going there as a barrister. It was going as a servant of the firm. But I wantedsomehow to leave India. There was also the tempting opportunity of seeing a new country, and ofhaving new experience. Also I could send £105 to my brother and help in the expenses of thehousehold. I closed with the offer without any higgling, and got ready to go to South Africa. Chapter 31 ARRIVAL IN NATALWhen starting for South Africa I did not feel the wrench of separation which I had experiencedwhen leaving for England. My mother was now no more. I had gained some knowledge of theworld and of travel abroad, and going from Rajkot to Bombay was no unusual affair.This time I only felt the pang of parting with my wife. Another baby had been born to us since myreturn from England. Our love could not yet be called free from lust, but it was getting graduallypurer. Since my return from Eurpoe, we had lived very little together; and as I had now becomeher teacher, however indifferent, and helped her to make certain reforms, we both felt thenecessity of being more together, if only to continue the reforms. But the attraction of South Africarendered the separation bearable. We are bound to meet again in a year , I said to her, by wayof consolation, and left Rajkot for Bombay.Here I was to get my passage through the agent of Dada Abdulla and Company. But no berthwas available on the boat, and if I did not sail then, I should be stranded in Bombay. We have
  53. tried our best, said the agent, to secure a first class passage, but in vain unless you areprepared to go on deck. Your meals can be arranged for in the saloon. Those were the days ofmy first class traveling, and how could a barrister travel as a deck passenger? So I refused theoffer. I suspected the agents veracity, for I could not believe that a first class passage was notavailable. With the agents consent I set about securing it myself. I went on board the boat andmet the chief officer. He said to me quite frankly, We do not usually have such a rush. But as theGovernor-General of Mozambique is going by this boat, all the berths are engaged.Could you not possibly squeeze me in? I asked. He surveyed me from top to toe and smiled.There is just one way, he said. There is an extra berth in my cabin, which is usually not availablefor passengers. But I am prepared to give it to you. I thanked him and got the agent to purchasethe passage. In April 1893 I set forth full of zest to try my luck in South Africa.The first port of call was Lamu which we reached in about thirteen days. The Captain and I hadbecome great friends by this time. He was fond of playing chess, but as he was quite a novice, hewanted one still more of a beginner for his partner, and so he invited me. I had heard a lot aboutthe game but had never tried my hand at it. Players used to say that this was a game in whichthere was plenty of scope for the exercise of ones intelligence. The Captain offered to give melessons, and he found me a good pupil as I had unlimited patience. Every time I was the loser,and that made him all the more eager to teach me. I liked the game, but never carried my likingbeyond the boat or my knowledge beyond the moves of the pieces.At Lamu the ship remained at anchor for some three to four hours, and I landed to see the port.The Captain had also gone ashore, but he had warned me that the harbour was treacherous andthat I should return in good time.It was a very small place. I went to the Post Office and was delighted to see the Indian clerksthere, and had a talk with them. I also saw the Africans and tried to acquaint myself with theirways of life which interested me very much. This took up some time.There were some deck passengers with whom I had made acquaintance, and who had landedwith a view to cooking their food on shore and having a quiet meal. I now found them preparing toreturn to the steamer, so we all got into the same boat. The tide was high in the harbour and ourboat had more than its proper load. The current was so strong that it was impossible to hold theboat to the ladder of the steamer. It would just touch the ladder and be drawn away again by thecurrent. The first whistle to start had already gone. I was worried. The Captain was witnessing ourplight from the bridge. He ordered the steamer to wait an extra five minutes. There was anotherboat near the ship which a friend hired for me for ten rupees. This boat picked me up from theoverloaded one. The ladder had already been raised. I had therefore to be drawn up by means ofa rope and the steamer started immediately. The other passengers were left behind. I nowappreciated the Captains warning.After Lamu the next port was Mombasa and then Zanzibar. The halt here was a long one eight orten days and we then changed to another boat.The Captain liked me much but the liking took an undesirable turn. He invited an English friendand me to accompany him on an outing, and we all what the outing meant. And little did theCaptain know what an ignoramus I was in such matters. We were taken to some Negro womensquarters by a tout. We were each shown into a room. I simply stood there dumb with shame.Heaven only knows what the poor woman must have thought of me. He saw my innocence. Atfirst I felt very much ashamed, but as I could not think of the thing except with horror, the sense ofshame wore away, and I thanked God that the sight of the woman had no moved me in the least.I was disgusted at my weakness and pitied myself for not having had the courage to refuse to gointo the room.
  54. This in my life was the third trial of its kind. Many a youth, innocent at first, must have been drawninto sin by a false sense of shame. I could have credit if I had refused to enter that room. I mustentirely thank the All-merciful for having saved me. The incident increased my faith in God andtaught me, to a certain extent, to cast off false shame.As we had to remain in this port for a week. I took rooms in the town and saw good deal bywandering about the neighbourhood. Only Malabar can give any idea of the luxuriant vegetationof Zanzibar. I was amazed at the gigantic trees and the size of the fruits.The next call was at Mozambique and thence we reached Natal towards the close of May. Chapter 32 SOME EXPERIENCESThe port of Natal is Durban also known as Port Natal. Abdulla Sheth was there to receive me.As the ship arrived at the quay and I watched the people coming on board to meet their friends, Iobserved that the Indians were not held in much respect. I could not fail to notice a sort ofsnobbishness about the manner in which those who knew Abdulla Sheth behaved towards him,and it stung me. Abdulla Sheth had not got used to it. Those who looked at me did so with acertain amount of curiosity. My dress marked me out from other Indians. I had a frock- coat and aturban, an imitation of the Bengal pugree.I was taken to the firms quarters and shown into the room set apart for me, next to AbdullaSheths. He did not understand me. I could not understand him. He read the papers his brotherhad sent through me, and felt more puzzled. He thought his brother had sent him a whiteelephant. My style of dress and living struck him as being expensive like that of the Europeans.There was no particular work then which could be given me. Their case was going on in theTransvaal. There was no meaning in sending me there immediately. And how far could he trustmy ability and honesty? He would not be in Pretoria to watch me. The defendants were inPretoria, and for aught he knew they might bring undue influence to bear on me. And if work inconnection with the case in question was not to be entrusted to me, what work could I be given todo, as all other work could be done much better by his clerks? The clerks could be brought tobook, if they did wrong. Could I be, if I also happened to err? So if no work in connection with thecase could be given me, I should have to be kept for nothing.Abdulla Sheth was practically unlettered, but he had a rich fund of experience. He had an acuteintellect and was conscious of it. By practice he had picked up just sufficient English forconversational purposes, but that served him for carrying on all his business, whether it wasdealing with Bank Managers and European merchants or explaining his case to his counsel. TheIndians held him in very high esteem. His firm was then the biggest, or at any rate one of thebiggest, of the Indian firms. With all these advantages he had one disadvantage he was by naturesuspicious.He was proud of Islam and loved to discourse on Islamic philosophy. Though he did not knowArabic, his acquaintance with the Holy Koran and Islamic literature in general was fairly good.Illustrations he had in plenty, always ready at hand. Contact with him gave me a fair amount ofpractical knowledge of Islam. When we came closer to each other, we had long discussions onreligious topics.
  55. On the second or third day of my arrival, he took me to see the Durban court. There heintroduced me to several people and seated me next to his attorney. The Magistrate kept staringat me and finally asked me to take off my turban. This I refused to do and left the court.So here too there was fighting in store for me.Abdulla Sheth explained to me why some Indians were required to take off their turbans. Thosewearing the Musalman costume might, he said, keep their turbans on, but the other Indians onentering a court had to take theirs off as a rule.I must enter into some details to make this nice distinction intelligible. In the course of these twoor three days I could see that the Indians were divided into different groups. One was that ofMusalman merchants, who would call themselves Arabs. Another was that of Hindu, and yetanother of Parsi, clerks. The Hindu clerks were neither here nor there, unless they cast in their lotwith the Arab. The Parsi clerks would call themselves Persians. These three classes had somesocial relations with one another. But by far the largest class was that composed of Tamil, Teluguand North Indian indentured and freed labourers. The indentured labourers were those who wentto natal on an agreement to serve for five years, and came to be known there as girmitiyas fromgirmit, which was the corrupt form of the English word agreement. The other three classes hadnone but business relations with this class. Englishmen called them coolies and as the majorityof Indians belonged to the labouring class, all Indians were called coolies, or samis. sami is aTamil suffix occurring after many Tamil names, and it is nothing else than the Samskrit Swami,meaning a master. Whenever, therefore, an Indian resented being addressed as a sami and hadenough wit in him, he would try to return the compliment in this wise: You may call me sami, butyou forget that sami means a master. I am not your master! Some Englishmen would wince atthis, while others would get angry, swear at the Indian and, if there was a chance, would evenbelabour him; for sami to him was nothing better than a term of contempt. To interpret it to meana master amounted to an insult!I was hence known as a coolie barrister. The merchants were known as coolie merchants. Theoriginal meaning of the word coolie was thus forgotten, and it became a common appellation forall Indians. The Musalman merchant would resent this and say: I am not a coolie, I am an Arab,or I am a merchant, and the Englishman, if courteous, would apologize to him.The question of wearing the turban had a great importance in this state of things, Being obliged totake off ones Indian turban would be pocketing an insult. So I thought I had better bid good-byeto the Indian turban and begin wearing an English hat, which would save me from the insult andthe unpleasant controversy.But Abdulla Sheth disapproved of the idea. He said, If you do anything of the kind, it will have avery bad effect. You will compromise those insisting on wearing Indian turbans. And an Indianturban sits well on your head. If you wear an English hat, you will pass for a waiter.There was practical wisdom, patriotism and a little bit of narrowness in this advice. The wisdomwas apparent, and he would not have insisted on the Indian turban except out of patriotism; theslighting reference to the waiter betrayed a kind of narrowness. Amongst the indentured Indiansthere were three classes Hindus, Musalmans and Christians. The last were the children ofindentured Indians who became converts to Christanity. Even in 1893 their number was large.They wore the English costume., and the majority of them earned their living by service aswaiters in hotels. Abdulla Sheths criticism of the English hat was with reference to this class. Itwas considered degrading to serve as a waiter in a hotel. The belief persists even today amongmany.
  56. On the whole I liked Abdulla Sheths advice. I wrote to the press about the incident and defendedthe wearing of my turban in the court. The question was very much discussed in the papers,which described me as an unwelcome visitor. Thus the incident gave me an unexpectedadvertisement in South Africa within a few days of my arrival there. Some supported me whileothers severely criticized my temerity.My turban stayed with me practically until the end of my stay in South Africa. When and why I leftoff wearing any head-dress at all in South Africa, we shall see later. Chapter 33 ON THE WAY TO PRETORIAI soon came in contact with the Christian Indians living in Durban. The Court Interpreter, Mr.Paul, was a Roman Catholic. I made his acquaintance, as also that of the late Mr. SubhanGodfrey, then a teacher under the Protestant Mission, and father of James Godfery who as amember of the South African Deputation, visited India in 1924. I likewise met the late ParsiRustomji and the late Adamji Miyakhan about the same time. All these friends, who up to thenhad never met one another except on business, came ultimately into close contact, as we shallsee later.Whilst I was thus widening the circle of my acquaintance, the firm received a letter from theirlawyer saying that preparations should be made for the case, and that Abdulla Sheth should go toPretoria himself or send representative.Abdulla Sheth gave me this letter to read, and asked me if I would go to Pretoria. I can only sayafter I have understood the case from you, said I. At present I am at a loss to know what I haveto do there. He thereupon asked his clerks to explain the case to me.As I began to study the case, I felt as though I ought to begin from the A B C of the subject.During the few days I had had at Zanzibar, I had been to the court to see the work there. A Parsilawyer was examining a witness and asking him question regarding credit and debit entries inaccount books. It was all Greek to me. Book-keeping I had learnt neither at school nor during mystay in England. And the case for which I had come to South Africa was mainly about accounts.Only one who knew accounts could understand and explain it. The clerk went on talking aboutthis debited and that credited, and I felt more and more confused. I did not know what a P. Notemeant. I failed to find the word in the dictionary. I revealed my ignorance to the clerk, and I learntfrom him that a P. Note meant a promisory note. I purchased a book on book-keeping andstudied it. That gave me some confidence. I understood the case. I saw that Abdulla Sheth, whodid not know how to keep accounts, had so much practical knowledge that he could quickly solveintricacies of book-keeping. I told him that I was prepared to go to Pretoria.Where will you put up? asked the Sheth. Wherever you want me to, said I. Then I shall write toour lawyer. He will arrange for your lodgings. I shall also write to my Meman friends there, but Iwould not advise you to stay with them. The other party has great influence in Pretoria. Shouldany one of them manage to read our private correspondence, it might do us much harm. Themore you avoid familiarity with them, the better for us.
  57. I shall stay where your lawyer puts me up, or I shall find out independent lodgings. Pray dontworry. Not a soul shall know anything that is confidential between us. But I do intend cultivatingthe acquaintance of the other party. I should like to be friends with them. I would try, if possible, tosettle the case out of court. After all Tyeb Sheth is a relative of yours.Sheth Tyeb Haji Khan Muhammad was a near relative of Abdulla Sheth.The mention of a probable settlement somewhat startled the Sheth, I could see. But I had alreadybeen six or seven days in Durban, and we now knew and understood each other. I was no longera white elephant. So he said:Y...es, I see. There would be nothing better than a settlement out of court. But we are all relativesand know one another very well indeed. Tyeb Sheth is not a man to consent to a settlementeasily. With the slightest unwariness on our part, he would screw all sorts of things out of us, anddo us down in the end. So please think twice before you do nothing.Dont be anxious about that, said I. I need not talk to Tyeb Sheth, or for that matter to anyoneelse, about the case. I would only suggest to him to come to an understanding, and so save a lotof unnecessary litigation.On the seventh or eighth day after my arrival, I left Durban. A first class seat was booked for me.It was usual there to pay five shillings extra, if one needed a bedding. Abdulla Sheth insisted thatI should book one bedding but, out of obstinacy and pride and with a view to saving five shillings,I declined. Abdulla Sheth warned me. Look, now, said he, this is a different country from India.Thank God, we have enough and to spare. Please do not stint yourself in anything that you mayneed.I thanked him and asked him not to be anxious.The train reached Maritzburg, the capital of Natal, at about 9 p.m. Beddings used to be providedat this station. A railway servant came and asked me if I wanted one. No, said I, I have one withme. He went away. But a passenger came next, and looked me up and down. He saw that I wasa coloured man. This disturbed him. Out he went and came in again with one or two officials.They all kept quiet, when another official came to me and said, Come along, you must go to thevan compartment.But I have a first class ticket, said I.That doesnt matter, rejoined the other. I tell you, you must go to the van compartment.I tell you, I was permitted to travel in this compartment at Durban, and I insist on going on in it.No, you wont, said the official. You must leave this compartment, or else I shall have to call apolice constable to push you out.Yes, you may. I refuse to get out voluntarily.The constable came. He took me by the hand and pushed me out. My luggage was also takenout. I refused to go to the other compartment and the train steamed away. I went and sat in thewaiting room, keeping my hand-bag with me, and leaving the other luggage where it was. Therailway authorities had taken charge of it.
  58. It was winter, and winter in the higher regions of South Africa is severely cold. Maritzburg being ata high altitude, the cold was extremely bitter. My over-coat was in my luggage, but I did not dareto ask for it lest I should be insulted again, so I sat and shivered. There was no light in the room.A passenger came in at about midnight and possibly wanted to talk to me. But I was in no moodto talk.I began to think of my duty. Should I fight for my rights or go back to India, or should I go on toPretoria without minding the insults, and return to India after finishing the case? It would becowardice to run back to India without fulfilling my obligation. The hardship to which I wassubjected was superficial only a symptom of the deep disease of colour prejudice. I should try, ifpossible, to root out the disease and suffer hardships in the process. Redress for wrongs I shouldseek only to the extent that would be necessary for the removal of the colour prejudice.So I decided to take the next available train to Pretoria.The following morning I sent a long telegram to the General manager of the Railway and alsoinformed Abdulla Sheth, who immediately met the General Manager. The Manager justified theconduct of the railway authorities, but informed him that he had already instructed the StationMaster to see that I reached my destination safely. Abdulla Sheth wired to the Indian merchantsin Maritzburg and to friends in other places to meet me and look after me. The merchants cameto see me at the station and tried to comfort me by narrating their own hardships and explainingthat what had happened to me was nothing unusual. They also said that Indians travelling first orsecond class had to expect trouble from railway officials and white passengers. The day was thusspent in listening to these tales of woe. The evening train arrived. There was a reserved berth forme. I now purchased at Maritzburg the bedding ticket I had refused to book at Durban.The train took me to Charlestown. Chapter 34 MORE HARDSHIPSThe train reached Charlestown in the morning. There was no railway, in those days, betweenCharlestown and Johannesburg, but only a stage- coach, which halted at Standerton for the nighten route. I possessed a ticket for the coach, which was not cancelled by the break of the journeyat Maritzburg for a day; besides, Abdulla Sheth had sent a wire to the coach agent atCharlestown.But the agent only needed a pretext for putting me off, and so, when he discovered me to be astranger, he said, Your ticket is cancelled. I gave him the proper reply. The reason at the back ofhis mind was not want of accommodation, but quite another. Passengers had to beaccommodated inside the coach, but as I was regarded as a coolie and looked a stranger, itwould be proper, thought the leader, as the white man in charge of the coach was called, not toseat me with the white passengers. There were seats on either side of the coachbox. The leadersat on one of these as a rule. Today he sat inside and gave me his seat. I knew it was sheerinjustice and an insult, but I thought it better to pocket it, I could not have forced myself inside,and if I had raised a protest, the coach would have gone off without me. This would have meant
  59. the loss of another day, and Heaven only knows what would have happened the next day. So,much as I fretted within myself, I prudently sat next the coachman.At about three oclock the coach reached Pardekoph. Now the leader desired to sit where I wasseated, as he wanted to smoke and possibly to have some fresh air. So he took a piece of dirtysack-cloth from the driver, spread it on the footboard and, addressing me said, Sami, you sit onthis, I want to sit near the driver,. The insult was more than I could bear. In fear and trembling Isaid to him, It was you who seated me here, though I should have been accommodated inside. Iput up with the insult. Now that you want to sit outside and smoke, you would have me sit at yourfeet. I will not do so, but I am prepared to sit inside.As I was struggling through these sentences, the man came down upon me and began heavily tobox my ears. He seized me by the arm and tried to drag me down. I clung to the brass rails of thecoachbox and was determined to keep my hold even at the risk of breaking my wristbones. Thepassengers were witnessing the scene - the man swearing at me, dragging and belabouring me,and I remaining still. He was strong and I was weak. Some of the passengers were moved to pityand exclaimed: Man, let him alone. Dont beat him. He is not to blame. He is right. If he cant staythere, let him come and sit with us. No fear, cried the man, but he seemed somewhat crestfallenand stopped beating me. He let go my arm, swore at me a little more, and asking the Hottentotservant who was sitting on the other side of the coachbox to sit on the footboard, took the seat sovacated.The passengers took their seats and, the whistle given, the coach rattled away. My heart wasbeatingfast within my breast, and I was wondering whether I should ever reach my destinationalive. The man cast an angry look at me now and then and, pointing his finger at me, growled:Take care, let me once get to Standerton and I shall show you what I do. I sat speechless andprayed to God to help me.After dark we reached Standerton and I heaved a sigh of relief on seeing some Indian faces. Assoon as I got down, these friends said: We are hereto receive you and take you to Isa Shethsshop. We have had a telegram from Dada Abdulla. I was very glad, and we went to Sheth IsaHaji Sumars shop. The Sheth and his clerks gathered round me. I told them all that I had gonethrough. They were very sorry to hear it and comforted me by relating to me their own bitterexperiences.I wanted to inform the agent of the Coach Company of the whole affair. So I wrote him a letter,narrating everything that had happened, and drawing his attention to the threat his man had heldout. I also asked for an assurance that he would accommodate me with the other passengersinside the coach when we started the next morning. To which the agent replied to this effect:From Standerton we have a bigger coach with different men in charge. The man complained ofwill not be there tomorrow, and you will have a seat with the other passengers. This somewhatrelieved me. I had, of course, no intention of proceeding against the man who had assaulted me,and so the chapter of the assault closed there.In the morning Isa Sheths man took me to the coach, I got a good seat and reachedJohannesburg quite safely that night.Standerton is a small village and Johannesburg a big city. Abdulla Sheth had wired toJohannesburg also, and given me the name and address of Muhammad Kasam Kamruddins firmthere. Their man had come to receive me at the stage, but neither did I see him nor did herecognize me. So I decided to go to a hotel. I knew the names of several. Taking a cab I asked tobe driven to the Grand National Hotel. I saw the Manager and asked for a room. He eyed me fora moment, and politely saying, I am very sorry, we are full up, bade me good-bye. So I asked thecabman to drive to Muhammad Kasam Kamruddins shop. Here I found Abdul Gani Sheth
  60. expecting me, and he gave me a cordial greeting. He had a hearty laugh over the story of myexperience at the hotel. How ever did you expect to be admitted to a hotel? he said.Why not? I asked.You will come to know after you have stayed here a few days, said he. Only we can live in aland like this, because, for making money, we do not mind pocketing insults, and here we are.With this he narrated to me the story of the hardships of Indians in South Africa.Of Sheth Abdul Gani we shall know more as we proceed.He said: This country is not for men like you. Look now, you have to go to Pretoria tomorrow.You will have to travel third class. Conditions in the Transvaal are worse than in Natal. First andsecond class tickets are never issued to Indians.You cannot have made persistent efforts in this direction.We have sent representations, but I confess our own men too do not want as a rule to travel firstor second.I sent for the railway regulations and read them. There was a loophole. The language of the oldTransvaal enactments was not very exact or precise; that of the railway regulations was even lessso.I said to the Sheth: I wish to go first class, and if I cannot, I shall prefer to take a cab to Pretoria,a matter of only thirty-seven miles.Sheth Abdul Gani drew my attention to the extra time and money this would mean, but agreed tomy proposal to travel first, and accordingly we sent a note to the Station Master. I mentioned inmy note that I was a barrister and that I always travelled first. I also stated in the letter that Ineeded to reach Pretoria as early as possible, that as there was no time to await his reply I wouldreceive it in person at the station, and that I should expect to get a first class ticket. There was ofcourse a purpose behind asking for the reply in person. I thought that if the Station master gave awritten reply, he would certainly say No, especially because he would have his own notion of acollie barrister. I would therefore appear before him in faultless English dress, talk to him andpossibly persuade him to issue a first class ticket. So I went to the station in a frock-coat andnecktie, placed a sovereign for my fare on the counter and asked for a first class ticket.You sent me that note? he asked.That is so. I shall be much obliged if you will give me a ticket. I must reach Pretoria today.He smiled and, moved to pity, said: I am not a Transvaaler. I am a Hollander. I appreciate yourfeelings, and you have my sympathy. I do want to give you a ticket on one condition, however,that, if the guard should ask you to shift to the third class, you will not involve me in the affair, bywhich I mean that you should not proceed against the Railway Company. I wish you a safejourney. I can see you are a gentleman.With these words he booked the ticket. I thanked him and gave him the necessary assurance.Sheth Abdul Gani had come to see me off at the station. The incident gave him an agreeablesurprise, but he warned me saying: I shall be thankful if you reach Pretoria all right. I am afraid
  61. the guard will not leave you in peace in the first class and even if he does, the passengers willnot.I took my seat in a first class compartment and the train started. At Germiston the guard came toexamine the tickets. He was angry to find me there, and signalled to me with his finger to go tothe third class. I showed him my first class ticket. That doesnt matter, said he, remove to thethird class.There was only one English passenger in the compartment. He took the guard to ask. Dont yousee he has a first class ticket? I do not mind in the least his travelling with me. Addressing me, hesaid, You should make yourself comfortable where you are.The guard muttered; If you want to travel with a coolie, what do I care? and went away.At about eight oclock in the evening the train reached Pretoria. Chapter 35 FIRST DAY IN PRETORIAI had expected someone on behalf of Dada Abdullas attorney to meet me at Pretoria station. Iknew that no Indian would be there to receive me, since I had particularly promised not to put upat an Indian house. But the attorney had sent no one. I understood later that, as I had arrived ona Sunday, he could not have sent anyone without inconvenience. I was perplexed, and wonderedwhere to go, as I feared that no hotel would accept me.Pretoria station in 1893 was quite different from what it was in 1914. The lights were burningdimly. The travellers were few. I let all the other passengers go and thought that, as soon as theticket collector was fairly free, I would hand him my ticket and ask him if he could direct me tosome small hotel or any other such place where I might go; otherwise I would spend the night atthe station. I must confess I shrank from asking him even this, for I was afraid of being insulted.The station became clear of all passengers. I gave my ticket to the ticket collector and began myinquiries. He replied to me courteously, but I saw that he could not be of any considerable help.But an American Negro who was standing near by broke into the conversation.I see, said he, that you are an utter stranger here, without any friends. If you will come with me, Iwill take you to a small hotel, of which the proprietor is an American who is very well known tome. I think he will accept you.I had my own doubts about the offer, but I thanked him and accepted his suggestion. He took meto Johnsons Family Hotel. He drew Mr. Johnson aside to speak to him, and the latter agreed toaccommodate me for the night, on condition that I should have my dinner served in my room.I assure you, said he, that I have no colour prejudice. But I have only European custom, and, if Iallowed you to eat in the dining-room, my guests might be offended and even go away.
  62. Thank you, said I, even for accommodating me for the night. I am now more or less acquaintedwith the conditions here, and I understand your difficulty. I do not mind your serving the dinner inmy room. I hope to be able to make some other arrangement tomorrow.I was shown into a room, where I now sat waiting for the dinner and musing, as I was quite alone.There were not many guests in the hotel, and I had expected the waiter to come very shortly withthe dinner. Instead Mr. Johnston appeared. He said: I was ashamed of having asked you to haveyour dinner here. So I spoke to the other guests about you, and asked them if they would mindyour having your dinner in the dining-room. They said they had no objection, and that they did notmind your staying here as long as you liked. Please, therefore, come to the dining-room, if youwill, and stay here as long as you wish.I thanked him again, went to the dining-room and had a hearty dinner.Next morning I called on the attorney, Mr. A. W. Baker. Abdulla Sheth had given me somedescription of him, so his cordial reception did not surprise me. He received me very warmly andmade kind inquiries. I explained all about myself. Thereupon he said: We have no work for youhere as barrister, for we have engaged the best counsel. The case is a prolonged andcomplicated one, so I shall take your assistance only to the extent of getting necessaryinformation. And of course you will make communication with my client easy for me, as I shallnow ask for all the information I want from him through you. That is certainly an advantage, I havenot yet found rooms for you. I thought I had better do so after having seen you. There is a fearfulamount of colour prejudice here, and therefore it is not easy to find lodgings for such as you. But Iknow a poor woman. She is the wife of a baker. I think she will take you and thus add to herincome at the same time. Come, let us go to her place.So he took me to her house. He spoke with her privately about me, and she agreed to accept meas a boarder at 35 shilling a week.Mr. Baker, besides being an attorney, was a staunch lay preacher, He is still alive and nowengaged purely in missionary work, having given up the legal profession. He is quite well-to-do.He still corresponds with me. In his letters he always dwells on the same theme. He upholds theexcellence of Christianity from various points of view, and contends that it is impossible to findeternal peace, unless one accepts Jesus as the only son of God and the Saviour of mankind.During the very first interview Mr. Baker ascertained my religious views. I said to him: I am aHindu by birth. And yet I do not know much of Hinduism, and I know less of other religions. In factI do not know where I am, and what is and what should be my belief. I intend to make a carefulstudy of my own religion and, as far as I can, of other religions as well.Mr. Baker was glad to hear all this, and said: I am one of the Directors of the South AfricaGeneral Mission. I have built a church at my own expense, and deliver sermons in it regularly. Iam free from colour prejudice. I have some co-workers, and we meet at one oclock every day fora few minutes and pray for peace and light. I shall be glad if you will join us there. I shall introduceyou to my co-workers who will be happy to meet you, and I dare say you will also like theircompany. I shall give you, besides some religious books to read, though of course the book ofbooks is the Holy Bible, which I would specially recommend to you.I thanked Mr. Baker and agreed to attend the one oclock prayers as regularly as possible.So I shall expect you here tomorrow at one oclock, and we shall go together to pray, added Mr.Baker, and we said good-bye.I had little time for reflection just yet.
  63. I went to Mr. Johnston, paid the bill and removed to the new lodgings, where I had my lunch. Thelandlady was good woman. She had cooked a vegetarian meal for me. It was not long before Imade myself quite at home with the family.I next went to see the friend to whom Dada Abdulla had given me a note. From him I learnt moreabout the hardships of Indians in South Africa. He insisted that I should stay with him. I thankedhim, and told him that I had already made arrangements. He urged me not to hesitate to ask foranything I needed.It was now dark. I returned home, had my dinner, went to my room and lay there absorbed indeep thought. There was not any immediate work for me. I informed Abdulla Sheth of it. What, Ithought, can be meaning of Mr. Bakers interest in me? What shall I gain from his religious co-workers? How far should I undertake the study of Christianity? How was I to obtain literatureabout Hinduism? And how was I to understand Christianity in its proper perspective withoutthoroughly knowing my own religion? I could come to only one conclusion: I should make adispassionate study of all that came to me, and deal with Mr. Bakers group as God might guideme; I should not think of embracing another religion before I had fully understood my own.Thus musing I fell asleep. Chapter 36 CHRISTIAN CONTACTSThe next day at one oclock I went to Mr. Bakers prayer-meeting. There I was introduced toMiss Harris, Miss Gabb, Mr. Coates and others. Everyone kneeled down to pray, and I followedsuit. The prayers were supplications to God for various things, according to each persons desire.Thus the usual forms were for the day to be passed peacefully, or for God to open the doors ofthe heart.A prayer was now added for my welfare: Lord, show the path to the new brother who has comeamongst us, Give him, Lord, the peace that Thou hast given us. May the Lord Jesus who hassaved us save him too. We ask all this in the name of Jesus. There was no singing of hymns orother music at these meetings. After the supplication for something special every day, wedispersed, each going to his lunch, that being the hour for it. The prayers did not take more thanfive minutes.The Misses Harris and Gabb were both elderly maiden ladies. Mr. Coates was a Quaker. The twoladies lived together, and they gave me a standing invitation to four oclock tea at their houseevery Sunday.When we met on Sundays, I used to give Mr. Coates my religious diary for the week, and discusswith him the books I had read and the impression they had left on me. The ladies used to narratetheir sweet experiences and talk about the peace they had found.Mr. Coates was a frank-hearted staunch young man. We went out for walks together, and he alsotook me to other Christian friends.
  64. As we came closer to each other, he began to give me books of his own choice, until my shelfwas filled with them. He loaded me with books, as it were. In pure faith I consented to read allthose books, and as I went on reading them we discussed them.I read a number of such books in 1893. I do not remember the names of them all, but theyincluded the Commentary of Dr. Parker of the City Temple, Pearsons Many Infallible Proofs andButlers Analogy. Parts of these were unintelligible to me. I liked some things in them, while I didnot like others. Many Infallible Proofs were proofs in support of the religion of the Bible, as theauthor understood it. The book had no effect on me. Parkers Commentary was morallystimulating, but it could not be of any help to one who had no faith in the prevalent Christianbeliefs. Butlers Analogy struck me to be a very profound and difficult book, which should be readfour or five times to be understood properly. It seemed to me to be written with a view toconverting atheists to theism. The arguments advanced in it regarding the existence of God wereunnecessary for me, as I had then passed the stage of unbelief; but the arguments in proof ofJesus being the only incarnation of God and the mediator between God and man left meunmoved.But Mr. Coates was not the man easily to accept defeat. He had great affection for me. He saw,round my neck, the Vaishnava necklace of Tulasi-beads. He thought it to be superstition and waspained by it. This superstition does not become you. Come, let me break the necklace.No, you will not. It is a sacred gift from my mother.But do you believe in it?I do not know its mysterious significance. I do not think I should come to harm if I did not wear it.But I cannot, without sufficient reason, give up a necklace that she put round my neck out of loveand in the conviction that it would be conducive to my welfare. When, with the passage of time, itwears away and breaks of its own accord. I shall have no desire to get a new one. But thisnecklace cannot be broken.Mr. Coates could not appreciate my argument, as he had no regard for my religion. He waslooking forward to delivering me from the abyss of ignorance. He wanted to convince me that, nomatter whether there was some truth in other religions, salvation was impossible for me unless Iaccepted Christianity which represented the truth, and that my sins would not be washed awayexcept by the intercession of Jesus, and that all good works were useless.Just as he introduced me to several books, he introduced me to several friends whom heregarded as staunch Christians. One of these introductions was to a family which belonged to thePlymouth Brethren, a Christian sect.Many of the contacts for which Mr. Coates was responsible were good. Most struck me as beingGod fearing. But during my contact with this family, one of the Plymouth Brethren confronted mewith an argument for which I was not prepared:You cannot understand the beauty of our religion. From what you say it appears that you must bebrooding over your transgressions every moment of your life, always mending them and atoningfor them. How can this ceaseless cycle of action bring you redemption? You can never havepeace. You admit that we are all sinners. Now look at the perfection of our belief. Our attempts atimprovement and atonement are futile. And yet redemption we must have. How can we bear theburden of sin? We can out throw it on Jesus. He is the only sinless Son of God. It is His word thatthose who believe in Him shall have everlasting life. Therein lies Gods infinite mercy. And as webelieve in the atonement of Jesus, our own sins do not bind us. Sin we must, It is impossible tolive in this world sinless. And therefore Jesus suffered and atoned for all the sins of mankind.
  65. Only he who accepts His great redemption can have eternal peace. Think what a life ofrestlessness is yours, and what a promise of peace we have.The argument utterly failed to convince me. I humbly replied:If this be the Christianity acknowledged by all Christians, I cannot accept it. I do not seekredemption from the consequences of my sin. I seek to be redeemed from sin itself, or ratherfrom the very thought of sin. Until I have attained that end, I shall be content to be restless.To which the Plymouth Brother rejoined: I assure you, your attempt is fruitless. Think again overwhat I have said.And the brother proved as good as his word. he knowingly committed transgressions, andshowed me that he was undisturbed by the thought of them.But I already knew before meeting with these friends that all Christians did not believe in such atheory of atonement. Mr. Coates himself walked in the fear of God, His heart was pure, and hebelieved in the possibility of self-purification. The two ladies also shared this belief. Some of thebooks that came into my hands were full of devotion, So, although Mr. Coates was very muchdisturbed by this latest experience of mine. I was able to reassure him and tell him that thedistorted belief of a Plymouth Brother could not prejudice me against Christianity.My difficulties lay elsewhere. They were with regard to the Bible and its accepted interpretation. Chapter 37 SEEKING TOUCH WITH INDIANSBefore writing further about Christian contacts, I must record other experiences of the sameperiod.Sheth Tyeb Haji Khan Muhammad had in Pretoria the same position as was enjoyed by DadaAbdulla in Natal. There was no public movement that could be conducted without him. I made hisacquaintance the very first week and told him of my intention to get in touch with every Indian inPretoria. I expressed a desire to study the conditions of Indians there, and asked for his help inmy work, which he gladly agreed to give.My first step was to call a meeting of all the Indians in Pretoria and to present to them a picture oftheir condition in the Transvaal. The meeting was held at the house of Sheth Haji MuhammadHaji Joosab, to whom I had a letter of introduction. It was principally attended by Memanmerchants, though there was a sprinkling of Hindus as well. The Hindu population in Pretoria wasas a metter of fact, very small.My speech at this meeting may be said to have been the first public speech in my life. I went fairlyprepared with my subject, which was about observing truthfulness in business. I had alwaysheard the merchants say that truth was not possible in business. I did not think so then, nor do Inow. Even today there are merchant friends who contend that truth is inconsistent with business.Business,they say, is a very practical affair, and truth a matter of religion; and they argue that
  66. practical affairs are one thing, while religion is quite another. Pure truth, they hold, is out of thequestion in business, one can speak it only so far as is suitable. I strongly contested the positionin my speech and awakened the merchants to a sense of their duty, which was two-fold. Theirresponsibility to be truthful was all the greater in a foreign land, because of the millions of theirfellow-countrymen.I had found our peoples habits to be insanitary, as compared with those of the Englishmenaround them, and drew their attention to it. I laid stress on the necessity of forgetting alldistinctions such as Hindus, Musalmans, Parsis, Christians, Gujaratis, Madrasis, Punjabis,Sindhis, Kachchhis, Surtis and so on.I suggested, in conclusion, the formation of an association to make representations to theauthorities concerned in respect of the hardships of the Indian settlers, and offered to place at itsdisposal as much of my time and service as was possible.I saw that I made a considerable impression on the meeting.My speech was followed by discussion. Some offered to supply me with facts. I felt encouraged. Isaw that very few amongst my audience knew English. As I felt that knowledge of English wouldbe useful in that country, advised those who had leisure to learn English. I told them that it waspossible to learn a language even at an advanced age, and cited cases of people who had doneso. I undertook, besides, to teach a class, if one was started or personally to instruct individualsdesiring to learn the language.The class was not started, but three young men expressed their readiness to learn at theirconvenience, and on condition that I went to their places to teach them. Of these, two wereMusalmans one of them a barbar and the other a clerk and the third was a Hindu, a pettyshopkeeper. I agreed to suit them all. I had no misgivings regarding my capacity to teach. Mypupils might become tried, but not I. Sometimes it happened that I would go to their places only tofind them engaged in their business. But I did not lose patience. None of the three desired a deepstudy of English, but two may be said to have made fairly good progress in about eight months.Two learnt enough to keep accounts and write ordinary business letters. The barbers ambitionwas confined to acquiring just enough English for dealing with his customers. As a result of theirstudies, two of the pupils were equipped for making a fair income.I was satisfied with the result of the meeting. It was decided to hold such meetings, as far as Iremember, once a week or, may be, once a month. These were held more or less regularly, andon these occasions there was a free exchange of ideas. The result was that there was now inPretoria no Indian I did not know, or whose condition I was not acquainted with. This promptedme in turn to make the acquaintance of the British Agent in Pretoria, Mr. Jacobus de Wet. He hadsympathy for the Indians, but he had very little influence. However, he agreed to help us as besthe could, and invited me to meet him whenever I wished.I now communicated with the railway authorities and told them that, even under their ownregulations, the disabilities about travelling under which the Indians laboured could not bejustified. I got a letter in reply to the effect that first and second class tickets would be issued toIndians who were properly dressed. This was far from giving adequate relief, as it rested with theStation Master to decide who was properly dressed.The British Agent showed me some papers dealing with Indian affairs. Tyeb Sheth had also givenme similar papers. I learnt from them how cruelly the Indians were hounded out from the OrangeFree State.
  67. In short, my stay in Pretoria enabled me to make a deep study of the social, economic andpolitical condition of the Indians in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. I had no idea thatthis study was to be of invaluable service to me in the future. For I had thought of returning homeby the end of the year, or even earlier, if the case was finished before the year was out.But God disposed otherwise. Chapter 38 WHAT IT IS TO BE A COOLIEIt would be out of place here to describe fully the condition of Indians in the Transvaal and theOrange Free State. I would suggest that those who wish to have a full idea of it may turn to myHistory of Satyagraha in South Africa. It is, however, necessary to give here a brief outline.In the Orange Free State the Indians were deprived of all their rights by a special law enacted in1888 or even earlier. If they chose to stay there, they could do so only to serve as waiters inhotels or to pursue some other such menial calling. The traders were driven away with a nominalcompensation. They made representations and petitions, but in vain.A very stringent enactment was passed in the Transvaal in 1885. It was slightly amended in 1886,and it was provided under the amended law that all Indians should pay a poll tax of £ 3 as fee forentry into the Transvaal. They might not own land except in locations set apart for them, and inpractice even that was not to be ownership. They had no franchise. All this was under the speciallaw for Asiatics, to whom the laws for the coloured people were also applied. Under these latter,Indians might not walk on public footpaths, and might not move out of doors after 9 P. M. withouta permit. The enforcement of this last regulation was elastic so far as the Indians wereconcerned. Those who passed as Arabs were, as a matter of favour, exempted from it. Theexemption thus naturally depended on the sweet will of the police.I had to experience the effect of both these regulations. I often went out at night for a walk withMr. Coates, and we rarely got back home much before ten oclock. What if the police arrestedme? Mr. Coates was more concerned about this than I. He had to issue passes to his Negroservants. But how could he give one to me? Only a master might issue a permit to a servant. If Ihad wanted one, and even if Mr. Coates had been ready to give it, he could not have done so, forit would have been fraud.So Mr. Coates or some friend of his took me to the State Attorney, Dr. Krause. We turned out tobe barristers of the same Inn. The fact that I needed a pass to enable me to be out of doors after9 P.M. was too much for him. He expressed sympathy for me. Instead of ordering for me a pass,he gave me a letter authorizing me to be out of doors at all hours without police interference. Ialways kept this letter on me whenever I went out. The fact that I never had to make use of it wasa mere accident.Dr. Krause invited me to his place, and we may be said to have become friends. I occasionallycalled on him, and it was through him that I was introduced to his more famous brother, who waspublic Prosecutor in Johannesburg. During the Boer War he was court-martialled for conspiring tomurder an English officer, and was sentenced to imprisonment for seven years. He was alsodisbarred by the Benchers. On the termination of hostilities he was released and beinghonourably readmitted to the Transvaal bar, resumed practice.
  68. These connections were useful to me later on in my public life, and simplified much of my work.The consequences of the regulation regarding the use of footpaths were rather serious for me. Ialways went out for a walk through President Street to an open plain. President Krugers housewas in this street a very modest, unostentatious building, without a garden, and notdistinguishable from other houses in its neighbourhood. The houses of many of the millionaires inPretoria were far more pretentious, and were surrounded by gardens. Indeed President Krugerssimplicity was proverbial. Only the presence of a police patrol before the house indicated that itbelonged to some official. I nearly always went along the footpath past this patrol without theslightest hitch or hindrance.Now the man on duty used to be changed from time to time. Once one of these men, withoutgiving me the slightest warning, without even asking me to leave the footpath, pushed and kickedme into the street. I was dismayed. Before I could question him as to his behaviour, Mr. Coates,who happened to be passing the spot on horseback, hailed me and said:Gandhi, I have seen everything. I shall gladly be your witness in court if you proceed against theman. I am very sorry you have been so rudely assaulted.You need not be sorry, I said. What does the poor man know? All coloured people are the sameto him. He no doubt treats Negroes just as he has treated me. I have made it a rule not go tocourt in respect of any personal grievance. So I do not intend to proceed against him.That is just like you, said Mr. Coates, but do think it over again. We must teach such men alesson. He then spoke to the policeman and reprimanded him. I could not follow their talk, as itwas in Dutch, the policeman being a Boer. But he apologized to me, for which there was no need.I had already forgiven him.But I never again went through this street. There would be other men coming in this mans placeand, ignorant of the incident, they would behave likewise. Why should I unnecessarily courtanother kick? I therefore selected a different walk.The incident deepened my feeling for the Indian settlers. I discussed with them the advisability ofmaking a test case, if it were found necessary to do so, after having seen the British Agent in thematter of these regulations.I thus made an intimate study of the hard condition of the Indian settlers, not only by reading andhearing about it, but by personal experience. I saw that South Africa was no country for a self-respecting Indian, and my mind became more and more occupied with the question as to howthis state of things might be improved.But my principal duty for the moment was to attend to the case of Dada Abdulla.
  69. Chapter 39 PREPARATION FOR THE CASET he years stay in Pretoria was a most valuable experience in my life. Here it was that I hadopportunities of learning public work and acquired some measure of my capacity for it. Here itwas that the religious spirit within me became a living force, and here too I acquired a trueknowledge of legal practice. Here I learnt the things that a junior barrister learns in a seniorbarristers chamber, and here I also gained confidence that I should not after all fail as a lawyer. Itwas likewise here that I learnt the secret of success as a lawyer.Dada Abdullas was no small case. The suit was for £ 40,000. Arising out of businesstransactions, it was full of intricacies of accounts. Part of the claim was based on promissorynotes, and part on the specific performance of promise to delivery promissory notes. The defencewas that the promissory notes were fraudulently taken and lacked sufficient consideration. Therewere numerous points of fact and law in this intricate case.Both parties had engaged the best arrorneys and counsel. I thus had a fine opportunity ofstudying their work. The preparation of the plaintiffs case for the attorney and the sifting of factsin support of his case had been entrusted to me. It was an education to see how much theattorney accepted, and how much he rejected from my preparation, as also to see how much usethe counsel made of the brief prepared by the attorney. I saw that this preparation for the casewould give me a fair measure of my powers of comprehension and my capacity for marshallingevidence.I took the keenest interest in the case. Indeed I threw myself into it. I read all the paperspertaining to the transactions. My client was a man of great ability and reposed absoluteconfidence in me, and this rendered my work easy. I made a fair study of book-keeping. Mycapacity for translation was improved by having to translate the correspondence, which was forthe most part in Gujarati.Although, as I have said before, I took a keen interest in religious communion and in public workand always gave some of my time to them, they were not then my primary interest. Thepreparation of the case was my primary interest. Reading of law and looking up law cases, whennecessary, had always a prior claim on my time. As a result, I acquired such a grasp of the factsof the case as perhaps was not possessed even by the parties themselves, inasmuch as I hadwith me the papers of both the parties.I recalled the late Mr. Pincutts advice - facts are three-fourths of the law. At a later date it wasamply borne out by that famous barrister of South Africa, the late Mr. Leonard. In a certain casein my charge I saw that, though justice was on the side of my client, the law seemed to be againsthim. In despair I approached Mr. Leonard for help. He also felt that the facts of the case werevery strong. He exclaimed, Gandhi, I have learnt one thing, and it is this, that if we take care ofthe facts of a case, the law will take care of itself. Let us dive deeper into the facts of this case.With these words he asked me to study the case further and then see him again. On a re-examination of the facts I saw them in an entirely new light, and I also hit upon an old SouthAfrican case bearing on the point. I was delighted and went to Mr. Leonard and told himeverything. Right, he said, we shall win the case. Only we must bear in mind which of the judgestakes it.When I was making preparation for Dada Abdullas case, I had not fully realized this paramountimportance of facts. Facts mean truth, and once we adhere to truth, the law comes to our aid
  70. naturally. I saw that the facts of Dada Abdullas case made it very strong indeed, and that the lawwas bound to be persisted in, would ruin the plaintiff and the defendant, who were relatives andboth belonged to the same city. No one knew how long the case might go on. Should it beallowed to continue to be fought out in court, it might go on indefinitely and to no advantage ofeither party. Both, therefore, desired an immediate termination of the case, if possible.I approached Tyeb Sheth and requested and advised him to go to arbitration. I recommended himto see his counsel. I suggested to him that if an arbitrator commanding the confidence of bothparties could appointed, the case would be quickly finished. The lawyers fees were so rapidlymounting up that they were enough to devour all the resources of the clients, big merchants asthey were. The case occupied so much of their attention that they had no time left for any otherwork. In the meantime mutual ill-will was steadily increasing. I became disgusted with theprofession. As lawyers the counsel on both sides were bound to rake up points of law in supportof their own clients. I also saw for the first time that the winning party never recovers all the costsincurred. Under the Court Fees Regulation there was a fixed scale of costs to be allowed asbetween party and party, the actual costs as between attorney and client being very much higher.This was more than I could bear. I felt that my duty was to befriend both parties and bring themtogether. I strained every nerve to bring about a compromise. At last Tyeb Sheth agreed. Anarbitrator was appointed, the case was argued before him, and Dada Abdulla won.But that did not satisfy me. If my client were to seek immediate execution of the award, it wouldbe impossible for Tyeb Sheth to meet the whole of the awarded amount, and there was anunwritten law among the Porbandar Memans living in South Africa that death should be preferredto bankruptcy. It was impossible for Tyeb Sheth to pay down the whole sum of about £ 37,000and costs. He meant to pay not a pie less than the amount, and he did not want to be declaredbankrupt. There was only one way. Dada Abdulla should him to pay in moderate instalments. Hewas equal to the occasion, and granted Tyeb Sheth instalments spread over a very long period. Itwas more difficult for me to secure this concession of payment by instalments than to get theparties to agree to arbitration. But both were happy over the result, and both rose in the publicestimation. My joy was boundless. I had learnt the true practice of law. I had learnt to find out thebetter side of human nature and to enter mens hearts. I realized that the true function of a lawyerwas to unite parties riven asunder. The lesson was so indelibly burnt into me that a large part ofmy time during the twenty years of my practice as a lawyer was occupied in bringing aboutprivate compromises of hundreds of cases. I lost nothing thereby - not even money, certainly notmy soul. Chapter 40 RELIGIOUS FERMENTIt is now time to turn again to my experiences with Christian friends.Mr. Baker was getting anxious about my future. He took me to the Wellington Convention. TheProtestant Christians organize such gatherings every few years for religious enlightenment or, inother words, self-purification. One may call this religious restoration or revival. The WellingtonConvention was of this type. The chairman was the famous divine of the place, the Rev. AndrewMurray. Mr. Baker had hoped that the atmosphere of religious exaltation at the Convention, andthe enthusiasm and earnestness of the people attending it, would inevitably lead me to embraceChristianity.
  71. But his final hope was the efficacy of prayer. He had an abiding faith in prayer. It was his firmconviction that God could not but listen to prayer fervently offered. He would cite the instances ofmen like George Muller of Bristol, who depended entirely on prayer even for his temporal needs. Ilistened to his discourse on the efficacy of prayer with unbiased attention, and assured him thatnothing could prevent me from embracing Christianity, should I feel the call. I had no hesitation ingiving him this assurance, as I had long since taught myself to follow the inner voice. I delightedin submitting to it. To act against it would be difficult and painful to me.So we went to Wellington. Mr. Baker was hard put to it in having a coloured man like me for hiscompanion. He had to suffer inconveniences on many occasions entirely on account of me. Wehad to break the journey on the way, as one of the days happened to be a Sunday, and Mr. Bakerand his party would not travel on the sabbath. Though the manager of the station hotel agreed totake me in after much altercation, he absolutely refused to admit me to the dining- room. Mr.Baker was not the man to give way easily. He stood by the rights of the guests of a hotel. But Icould see his difficulty. At Wellington also I stayed with Mr. Baker. In spite of his best efforts toconceal the little inconveniences that he was put to, I could see them all.This Convention was an assemblage of devout Christians. I was delighted at their faith. I met theRev. Murray. I saw that many were praying for me. I liked some of their hymns, they were verysweet.The Convention lasted for three days. I could understand and appreciate the devoutness of thosewho attended it. But I saw no reason for changing my belief my religion. It was impossible for meto believe that I could go to heaven or attain salvation only by becoming a Christian. When Ifrankly said so to some of the good Christian friends, they were shocked. But there was no helpfor it.My difficulties lay deeper. It was more than I could believe that Jesus was the only incarnate sonof God, and that only he who believed in him would have everlasting life. If God could have sons,all of us were His sons. If Jesus was like God, or God Himself, then all men were like God andcould be God Himself. My reason was not ready to believe literally that Jesus by his death and byhis blood redeemed the sins of the world. Metaphorically there might be some truth in it. Again,according to Christianity only human beings had souls, and not other living beings, for whomdeath meant complete extinction; while I held a contrary belief. I could accept Jesus as a martyr,an embodiment of sacrifice, and a divine teacher, but not as the most perfect man ever born. Hisdeath on the Cross was a great example to the world, but that there was anything like amysterious or miraculous virtue in it my heart could not accept. The pious lives of Christians didnot give me anything that the lives of men of other faiths had failed to give. I had seen in otherlives just the same reformation that I had heard of among Christian principles. From the point ofview of sacrifice, it seemed to me that the Hindus greatly surpassed the Christians. It wasimpossible for me to regard Christianity as a perfect religion or the greatest of all religions.I shared this mental churning with my Christian friends whenever there was an opportunity, buttheir answers could not satisfy me.Thus if I could not accept Christianity either as a perfect, or the greatest religion, neither was Ithen convinced of Hinduism being such. Hindu defects were pressingly visible to me. Ifuntouchability could be a part of Hinduism, it could but be a rotten part or an excrescence. I couldnot understand the raison detre of a multitude of sects and castes. What was the meaning ofsaying that the Vedas were the inspired Word of God? If they were inspired, why not also theBible and the Koran?
  72. As Christian friends were endeavouring to convert me, even so were Musalman friends. AbdullaSheth had kept on inducing me to study Islam, and of course he had always something to sayregarding its beauty.I expressed my difficulties in a letter to Raychandbhai. I also corresponded with other religiousauthorities in India and received answers from them. Raychandbhais letter somewhat pacifiedme. He asked me to be patient and to study Hinduism more deeply. One of his sentences was tothis effect: On a dispassionate view of the question I am convinced that no other religion has thesubtle and profound thought of Hinduism, its vision of the soul, or its charity.I purchased Sales translation of the Koran and began reading it. I also obtained other books onIslam. I communicated with Christian friends in England. One of them introduced me to EdwardMaitland, with whom I opened correspondence. He sent me The Perfect Way, a book he hadwritten in collaboration with Anna Kingsford. The book was a repudiation of the current Christianbelief. He also sent me another book, The New Interpretation of the Bible. I liked both. Theyseemed to support Hinduism. Tolstoys The Kingdom of God is Within You overwhelmed me. Itleft an abiding impression on me. Before the independent thinking, profound morality, and thetruthfulness of this book, all the books given me by Mr. Coates seemed to pale into insignificance.My studies thus carried me in a direction unthought of by the Christian friends. Mycorrespondence with Edward Maitland was fairly prolonged, and that with Raychandbhaicontinued until his death. I read some of the books he sent me. These included Panchikaran,Maniratnamala, Mumukshu Prakaran of Yogavasishtha, Haribhadra Suris ShaddarshanaSamuchchaya and others.Though I took a path my Christian friends had not intended for me, I have remained for indebtedto them for the religious quest that they awakened in me. I shall always cherish the memory oftheir contact. The years that followed had more, not less, of such sweet and sacred contacts instore for me. Chapter 41 MAN PROPOSES, GOD DISPOSEST he case having been concluded, I had no reason for staying in Pretoria. So I went back toDurban and began to make preparations for my return home. But Abdulla Sheth was not the manto let me sail without a send-off. He gave a farewell party in my honour at Sydenham.It was proposed to spend the whole day there. Whilst I was turning over the sheets of some of thenewspapers I found there, I chanced to see a paragraph in a corner of one of them under thecaption Indian franchise. It was with reference to the Bill then before the House of Legislature,which sought to deprive the Indians of their right to elect members of the Natal LegislativeAssembly. I was ignorant of the Bill, and so were the rest of the guests who had assembled there.I inquired of Abdulla Sheth about it. He said: What can we understand in these matters? We canonly understand things that affect our trade. As you know all our trade in the Orange Free Statehas been swept away. We agitated about it, but in vain. We are after all lame men, beingunlettered. We generally take in newspapers simply to ascertain the daily market rates, etc. Whatcan we know of legislation? Our eyes and ears are the European attorneys here.
  73. But,said I, there are so many young Indians born and educated here, Do not they help you?They! exclaimed Abdulla Sheth in despair. They never care to come to us, and to tell you thetruth, we care less to recognize them. Being Christians, they are under the thumb of the whiteclergymen, who in their turn are subject to the Government.This opened my eyes. I felt that this class should be claimed as our own. Was this the meaning ofChristianity? Did they cease to be Indians because they had become Christians?But I was on the point of returning home and hesitated to express what was passing through mymind in this matter. I simply said to Abdulla Sheth: This Bill, if it passes into law, will make our lotextremely difficult. It is the first nail into our coffin. It strikes at the root of our self-respect.It may, echoed Sheth Abdulla. I will tell you the genesis of the franchise question. We knewnothing about it. But Mr. Escombe, one of our best attorneys, whom you know, put the idea intoour heads. It happened thus. He is a great fighter, and there being no love lost between, him andthe Wharf Engineer, he feared that the Engineer might deprive him of his votes and defeat him atthe election. So he acquainted us with our position, and at his instance we all registeredourselves as voters, and voted for him. You will now see how the franchise has not for us thevalue that you attach to it. But we understand what you say. Well, then, what is your advice?The other guests were listening to this conversation with attention. One of them said: Shall I tellyou what should be done? You cancel your passage by this boat, stay here a month longer, andwe will fight as you direct us.All the others chimed in : Indeed, indeed. Abdulla Sheth, you must detain Gandhibhai.The Sheth was a shrewd man. He said: I may not detain him now. Or rather, you have as muchright as I to do so. But you are quite right. Let us all persuade him to stay on. But you shouldremember that he is a barrister. What about his fees?The mention of fees pained me, and I broke in : Abdulla Sheth, fees are out of the question.There can be no fees for public work. I can stay, if at all, as a servant. And as you know, I am notacquainted with all these friends. But if you believe that they will co-operate, I am prepared tostay a month longer. There is one thing, however. Though you need not pay me anything, work ofthe nature we contemplate cannot be done without some funds to start with. Thus we may haveto send telegrams, we may have to print some literature, some touring may have to be done, thelocal attorneys may have to be consulted, and as I am ignorant of your laws, I may need somelaw-books for reference. All this cannot be done without money. And it is clear that one man is notenough for this work. Many must come forward to help him.And a chorus of voices was heard: Allah is great and merciful. Money will come in. Men thereare, as many as you may need. You please consent to stay, and all will be well.The farewell party was thus turned into a working committee. I suggested finishing dinner etc.quickly and getting back home. I worked out in my own mind an outline of the campaign. Iascertained the names of those who were on the list of voters, and made up my mind to stay onfor a month.Thus God laid the foundations of my life in South Africa and sowed the seed of the fight fornational self-respect.
  74. Chapter 42 SETTLED IN NATALSheth Haji Muhammad Haji Dada was regarded as the foremost leader of the Indian communityin Natal in 1893. Financially Sheth Abdulla Haji Adam was the chief among them, but he andothers always gave the first place to Sheth Haji Muhammad in public affairs. A meeting wastherefore, held under his presidentship at the house of Abdulla Sheth, at which it was resolved tooffer opposition to the Franchise Bill.Volunteers were enrolled. Natal-born Indians, that is, mostly Christian Indian youths, had beeninvited to attend this meeting Mr. Paul, the Durban Court Interpreter, and Mr. Subhan Godfrey,Headmaster of a mission school, were present, and it was they who were responsible for bringingtogether at the meeting a good number of Christian youths. All these enrolled themselves asvolunteers.Many of the local merchants were of course enrolled, noteworthy among them Sheths DawudMuhammad, Muhammad Kasam Kamruddin, Adamji Miyakhan, A. Kolandavellu Pillai, C.Lachhiram, Rangasami Padiachi, and Amad Jiva. Parsi Rustomji was of course there. Fromamong the clerks were Messrs Manekji, Joshi, Narsinhram and others, employees of DadaAbdulla and Co. and other big firms. They were all agreeably surprised to find themselves takinga share in public work. To be invited thus to take part was a new experience the community, alldistinctions such as high and low, small and great, master and servant, Hindus, Musalmans,Parsis, Christians, Gujaratis, Madrasis, Sindhis, etc., were forgotten. All were alike the childrenand servants of the motherland.The Bill had already passed, or was about to pass, its second reading. In the speeches on theoccasion the fact that Indians had expressed no opposition the stringent Bill was urged as proofof their unfitness for the franchise.I explained the situation to the meeting. The first thing we did was to despatch a telegram to theSpeaker of the Assembly requesting him to postpone further discussion of the Bill. A similartelegram was sent to the Premier, Sir John Robinson, and another to Mr. Escombe, as a friend ofDada Abdullas. The Speaker promptly replied that discussion of the Bill would be postponed fortwo days. This gladdened our hearts.The petition to be presented to the Legislative Assembly was drawn up. Three copies had to beprepared and one extra was needed for the press. It was also proposed to obtain as manysignatures to it as possible, and all this work had to be done in the course of a night. Thevolunteers with a knowledge of English and several others sat up the whole night. Mr. Arthur, anold man, who was known for his calligraphy, wrote principal copy. The rest were written by othersto someones dictation. Five copies were thus got ready simultaneously. Merchant volunteerswent out in their own carriages, or carriages whose hire they had paid, to obtain signatures to thepetition was despatched. The newspapers published it with favourable comments. It likewisecreated an impression on the Assembly. It was discussed in the House. Partisans of the Billoffered a defence, an admittedly lame one, in reply to the arguments advanced in the petition.The Bill, however, was passed.
  75. We all knew that this was a foregone conclusion, but the agitation had infused new life into thecommunity and had brought home to them the conviction that the community was one andindivisible, and that it was as much their duty to fight for its political rights as for its trading rights.Lord Ripon was at this time Secretary of State for the Colonies. It was decided to submit to him amonster petition. This was no small task and could not be done in a day. Volunteers wereenlisted, and all did their due share of the work.I took considerable pains over drawing up this petition. I read all the literature available on thesubject. My argument centred round a principle and an expedience. I argued that we had a rightto the franchise in Natal, as we had a kind of franchise in India. I urged that it was expedient toretain it, as the Indian population capable of using the franchise was very small.Ten thousand signatures were obtained in the course of a fortnight. To secure this number ofsignatures from the whole of the province was no light task, especially when we consider that themen were perfect strangers to the work. Specially competent volunteers had to be selected forthe work, as it had been decided not to take a single signature without the signatory fullyunderstanding the petition. The villages were scattered at long distances. The work could bedone promptly only if a number of workers put their whole heart into it. And this they did. Allcarried out their allotted task figures of Sheth Dawud Muhammad, Rustomji, Adamji Miyakhan,and Amad Jiva rise clearly before my mind. They brought in the largest number of signatures.Dawud Sheth kept going about in his carriage the whole day. And it was all a labour of love, notone of them asking for even his out-of-pocket expenses. Dada Abdullas house became at once acaravanserai and a public office. A number of educated fiends who helped me and many othershad their food there. Thus every helper was put to considerable expense.The petition was at last submitted. A thousand copies had been printed for circulation anddistribution. It acquainted the Indian public for the first time with conditions in Natal. I sent copiesto all the newspapers and publicists I knew.The Times of Inida, in a leading article on the petition, strongly supported the Indian demands.Copies were sent to journals and publicists in England representing different parties. The LondonTimes supported our claims, and we began to entertain hopes of the Bill being vetoed.It was now impossible for me to leave Natal. The Indian friends surrounded me on all sides andimportuned me to remain there permanently. I expressed my difficulties. I had made up my mindnot to stay at public expense. I felt it necessary to set up an independent household. I thoughtthat the house should be good and situated in a good locality of the community, unless I lived in astyle usual for barristers. And it seemed to me to be impossible to run such a household withanything less than 300 a year. I therefore decided that I could stay only if the members of thecommunity guaranteed legal work to the extent of that minimum, and I communicated mydecision to them.But, said they, we should like you to draw that amount for public work, and we can easily collectit. Of course this is apart from the fees you must charge for private legal work.No, I could not thus charge you for public work, said I. The work would not involve the exerciseon my part of much skill as barrister. My work would be mainly to make you all work. And howcould I charge you for that? And then I should have to appeal to you frequently for funds for thework, and if I were to draw my maintenance from you, I should find myself at a disadvantage inmaking an appeal for large amounts, and we should ultimately find ourselves at a standstill.Besides I want the community to find more than 300 annually for public work.
  76. But we have now known you for some time, and are sure you would not draw anything you donot need. And if we wanted you to stay here, should we not find your expenses?It is your love and present enthusiasm that make you talk like this. How can we be sure that thislove and enthusiasm will endure for ever? And as your friend and servant, I should occasionallyhave to say hard things to you. Heaven only knows whether I should then retain your affection.But the fact is that I must not accept any salary for public work. It is enough for me that youshould all agree to entrust me with your legal work. Even that may be hard for you. For one thing Iam not a white barrister. How can I be sure that the court will respond to me? Nor can I be surehow I shall fare as a lawyer. So even in giving me retainers you may be running some risk. Ishould regard even the fact of your giving them to me as the reward of my public work.The upshot of this discussion was that about twenty merchants gave me retainers for one year fortheir legal work. Besides this, Dada Abdulla purchased me the necessary furniture in lieu of apurse he had intended to give me on my departure,Thus I settled in Natal. Chapter 43 NATAL INDIAN CONGRESSPractice as a lawyer was and remained for me a subordinate occupation. It was necessary that Ishould concentrate on public work to justify my stay in Natal. The despatch of the petitionregarding the disfranchising bill was not sufficient in itself. Sustained agitation was essential formaking an impression on the Secretary of State for the Colonies. For this purpose it was thoughtnecessary to bring into being a permanent organization. So I consulted Sheth Abdulla and otherfriends, and we all decided to have a public organization of a permanent character.To find out a name to be given to the new organization perplexed me sorely. It was not to identifyitself with any particular party. The name Congress, I knew, was in bad odour with theConservatives in England, and yet the Congress was the very life of India. I wanted to popularizeit in Natal. It savoured of cowardice to hesitate to adopt the name. Therefore, with full explanationof my reasons, I recommended that the organization should be called the Natal Indian Congress,and on the 22nd May the Natal Indian Congress came into being.Dada Abdullas spacious room was packed to the full on that day. The Congress received theenthusiastic approval of all present. Its constitution was simple, the subscription was heavy. Onlyhe who paid five shillings monthly could be a member. The well-to-do classes were persuaded tosubscribe as much as they could. Abdulla Sheth also put the list with £ 2 per month. Two otherfriends also put down the same. I thought I should not stint my subscription, and put down apound per month. This was for me beyond my means, if at all I was to pay my way. And Godhelped me. We thus got a considerable number of members who subscribed £ 1 per month. Thenumber of those who put down 10s. was even larger. Besides this, there were donations whichwere gratefully accepted.Experience showed that no one paid his subscription for the mere asking. It was impossible tocall frequently on members outside Durban. The enthusiasm of one moment seemed to wear
  77. away the next. Even the members in Durban had to be considerably dunned before they wouldpay in their subscriptions.The task of collecting subscriptions lay with me. I being the secretary. And we came to a stagewhen I had to keep my clerk engaged all day long in the work of collection. The man got tired ofthe job, and I felt that, if the situation was to be improved, the subscriptions should be madepayable annually and not monthly, and that too strictly in advance. So I called a meeting of theCongress. Everyone welcomed the proposal for making the subscription annual instead ofmonthly and for fixing the minimum at £ 3. Thus the work of collection was considerablyfacilitated.I had learnt at the outset not to carry on public work with borrowed money. One could rely onpeoples promises in most matters except in respect of money. I had never found people quick topay the amounts they had undertaken to subscribe, and the Natal Indians were no exception tothe rule. As, therefore, no work was done unless there were funds on hand, the Natal IndianCongress has never been in debt.My co-workers evinced extraordinary enthusiasm in canvassing members. It was work whichinterested them and was at the same time an invaluable experience. Large numbers of peoplegladly came forward with cash subscriptions. Work in the distant villages of the interior was ratherdifficult. People did not know the nature of public work. And yet we had invitations to visit far awayplaces, leading merchants of every place extending their hospitality.On one occasion during this tour the situation was rather difficult. We expected our host tocontribute £ 6, but he refused to give anything more than £ 3. If we had accepted that amountfrom him, others would have followed suit, and our collections would have been spoiled. It was alate hour of the night, and we were all hungry. But how could we dine without having first obtainedthe amount we were bent on getting? All persuasion was useless. The host seemed to beadamant. Other merchants in the town reasoned with him, and we all sat up throughout the night,he as well as we determined not to budge one inch. Most of my co-workers were burning withrage, but they contained themselves. At last, when day was already breaking, the host yielded,paid down £ 6 and feasted us. This happened at Tongaat, but the repercussion of the incidentwas felt as far as Stanger on the North Coast and Charelstown in the interior. It also hastened ourwork of collection.But collecting funds was not the only thing to do. In fact I had long learnt the principle of neverhaving more money at ones disposal than necessary.Meetings used to be held once a month or even once a week if required. Minutes of theproceedings of the preceding meeting would be read, and all sorts of questions would bediscussed. People had no experience of taking part in public discussion or of speaking briefly andto the point. Everyone hesitated to stand up to speak. I explained to them. They realized that itwas an education for them, and many who had never been accustomed to speaking before anaudience soon acquired the habit of thinking and speaking publicly about matters of publicinterest.Knowing that in public work minor expenses at times absorbed large amounts, I had decided notto have even the receipt books printed in the beginning. I had a cyclostyle machine in my office,on which I took copies of receipt and reports. Such things I began to get printed only when theCongress coffers were full, and when the number of members and work had increased. Sucheconomy is essential for every organization, and yet I know that it is not always exercised. That iswhy I have thought it proper to enter into these little details of the beginnings of a small butgrowing organization.
  78. People never cared to have receipts for the amounts they paid, but we always insisted on thereceipts being given. Every pie was thus clearly accounted for, and I dare say the account booksfor the year 1894 can be found intact even today in the records of Natal Indian Congress.Carefully kept accounts are a sine qua non for any organization. Without them it falls intodisrepute. Without properly kept accounts it is impossible to maintain truth in its pristine purity.Another feature of the Congress was service of Colonial-born educated Indians. The Colonial-born Indian Educational Association was founded under the auspices of the Congress. Themembers consisted mostly of these educated youths. They had to pay a nominal subscription.The Association served to ventilate their needs and grievances, to stimulate thought amongstthem, to bring them into touch with Indian merchants and also to afford them scope for service ofthe community. It was a sort of debating society. The members met regularly and spoke or readpapers on different subjects. A small library was also opened in connection with the Association.The third feature of the Congress was propaganda. This consisted in acquainting the English inSouth Africa and England and people in India with the real state of things in Natal. With that endin view I wrote two pamphlets. The first was An Appeal to Every Briton in South Africa. Itcontained a statement, supported by evidence, of the general condition of Natal Indians. Theother was entitled The Indian Franchise An Appeal. It contained a brief history of the Indianfranchise in Natal with facts and figures. I had devoted considerable labour and study to thepreparation of these pamphlets, and the result was widely circulated.All this activity resulted in winning the Indians numerous friends in South Africa and in obtainingthe active sympathy of all parties in India. It also opened out and placed before the South AfricanIndians a definite line of action. Chapter 44 COLOUR BARThe symbol of a Court of justice is pair of scales held evenly by an impartial and blind butsagacious woman. Fate has purposely made her blind, in order that she may not judge a personfrom his exterior but from his intrinsic worth. But the Law Society of natal set out to persuade theSupreme Court to act in contravention of this principle and to belie its symbol.I applied for admission as an advocate of the Supreme Court. I held a certificate of admissionfrom the Bombay High Court. The English certificate I had to deposit with the Bombay High Courtwhen I was enrolled there. It was necessary to attach two certificates of character to theapplication for admission, and thinking that these would carry more weight if given by Europeans,I secured them from two well-known European merchants whom I knew through Sheth Abdulla.The application had to be presented through a member of the bar, and as a rule the AttorneyGeneral presented such applications without fees. Mr. Escombe, who, as we have seen, waslegal adviser to Messrs. Dada Abdulla & Co, was the Attorney General. I called on him, and hewillingly consented to present my application.The Law Society now sprang a surprise on me by serving me with a notice opposing myapplication for admission. One of their objections was that the original English certificate was notattached to my application. But the main objection was that, when the regulations regardingadmission of advocates were made, the possibility of a coloured man applying could not havebeen contemplated. Natal owed its growth to European enterprise, and therefore it was
  79. necessary that the European element should predominate in the bar. If coloured people wereadmitted, they might gradually outnumber the Europeans, and the bulwark of their protectionwould break down.The Law Society had engaged a distinguished lawyer to support their opposition. As he too wasconnected with Dada Abdulla & Co, he sent me word through Sheth Abdulla to go and see him.He talked with me quite frankly, and inquired about my antecedents, which I gave. Then he said:I have nothing to say against you. I was only afraid lest you should be some Colonial-bornadventurer. And the fact that your application was unaccompanied by the original certificatesupported my suspicion. There have been men who have made use of diplomas which did notbelong to them. The certificates of character from European traders you have submitted have novalue for me. What do they know about you? What can be the extent of their acquaintance withyou?But, said I, everyone here is a stranger to me. Even Sheth Abdulla first came to know me here.But then you say he belongs to the same place as you? It your father was Prime Minister there,Sheth Abdulla is bound to know your family. if you were to produce his affidavit, I should haveabsolutely no objection. I would then gladly communicate to the Law Society my inability tooppose your application.This talk enraged me, but I restrained my feelings. If I had attached Dada Abdullas certificate.said I to myself, it would have been rejected, and they would have asked for Europeanscertificates. And what has my admission as advocate to do with my birth and my antecedents?How could my birth, whether humble or objectionable, be used against me? But I containedmyself and quietly replied: continue from hereThough I do not admit that the Law Society has any authority to require all these details, I amquite prepared to present the affidavit you desire.Sheth Abdullas affidavit was prepared and duly submitted to the counsel for the Law Society. Hesaid he was satisfied. But not so the Law Society. it opposed my application before the SupremeCourt, which ruled out the opposition without even calling upon Mr. Escombe to reply. The Chiefjustice said in effiect :The objection that the applicant has not attached the original certificate has no substance. If hehas made a false affifavit, he can be prosecuted, and his name can then be struck off the roll, ifhe is proved guilty. The law makes no distinction between white and coloured people. The Courthas therefore no authority to prevent Mr. Gandhi from being enrolled as an advocate. We admithis application. Mr. Gandhi, you can now take the oath.I stood up and took the oath before the Registar. As soon as I was sworn in, the Chief Justice,addressing me, said:You must now take off your turban, Mr. Gandhi. you must submit to the rules of the Court withregard to the dress to be worn by practising barristers.I saw my limitations. The turban that I had insisted on wearing in the District Magistrates Court Itook off in obedience to the order of the Supreme Court. Not that, if I had resisted the order, theresistance could not have been justified. But I wanted to reserve my strength for fighting biggerbattles. I should not exhaust my skill as a fighter in insisting on retaining my turban. It was worthyof a better cause.
  80. Sheth Abdulla and other friends did not like my submission (or was it weakness?). They felt that Ishould have stood by my right to wear the turban while practising in the Court. I tried to reasonwith them. I tried to press home to them the truth of the maxim, When at Rome do as theRomans do. It would be right, I said, to refuse to obey, if in India an English officer or judgeordered you to take off your turban; but as an officer of the Court, it would have ill become me todisregard a custom of the Court in the province of Natal.I pacified the friends somewhat with these and similar arguments, but I do not think I convincedthem completely, in this instance, of the applicability of the principle of looking at a thing from adifferent standpoint in different circumstances. But all my life though, the very insistence on truthhas taught me to appreciate the beauty of compromise. I saw in later life that this spirit was anessential part of Satyagraha. It has often meant endangering my life and incurring the displeasureof friends. But truth is hard as adamant and tender as a blossom.The opposition of the Law Society gave me another advertisement in South Africa. Most of thenewspapers condemned the opposition and accused the Law Society of jealousy. Theadvertisement, to some extent, simplified my work. Chapter 45 BALASUNDARAMThe hearts earnest and pure desire is always fulfilled. In my own experience I have often seenthis rule verified. Service of the poor has been my hearts desire, and it has always thrown meamongst the poor and enabled me to identify myself with them.Although the members of the Natal Indian Congress included the Colonial-born Indians and theClerical class, the unskilled wage- earners, the indentured labourers were still outside its pale.The Congress was not yet theirs. They could not afford to belong to it by paying the subscriptionand becoming its members. The Congress could win their attachment only by serving them. Anopportunity offered itself when neither the Congress nor I was really ready for it. I had put inscarcely three or four months practice, and the Congress also was still in its infancy, when aTamil man in tattered clothes, head-gear in hand, two front teeth broken and his mouth bleeding,stood before me trembling and weeping. He had been heavily belaboured by his master. I learntall about him from my clerk, who was a Tamilian. Balasundaram - as that was the visitors name -was serving his indenture under a well-known European resident of Durban. The master, gettingangry with him, had lost self-control, and had beaten Balasundaram severely, breaking two of histeeth.I sent him to a doctor. In those days only white doctors were available. I wanted a certificate fromthe doctor about the nature of the injury Balasundaram had sustained. I secured the certificate,and straightway took the injured man to the magistrate, to whom I submitted his affidavit. Themagistrate was indignant when he read it, and issued a summons against the employer.It was far from my desire to get the employer punished. I simply wanted Balasundaram to bereleased from him. I read the law about indentured labour. If an ordinary servant left servicewithout giving notice, he was liable to be sued by his master in a civil court. With the indenturedlabourer the case was entirely different. He was liable, in similar circumstances, to be proceededagainst in a criminal court and to be imprisoned on conviction. That is why Sir William Hunter
  81. called the indenture system almost as bad as slavery. Like the slave the indentured labourer wasthe property of his master.There were only two ways of releasing Balasundaram: either by getting the Protector ofIndentured Labourers to cancel his indenture or transfer him to someone else, or by gettingBalasundarams employer to release him. I called on the latter and said to him: I do not want toproceed against you and get you punished. I think you realize that you have severely beaten theman. I shall be satisfied if you will transfer the indenture to someone else. To this he readilyagreed. I next saw the Protector. He also agreed, on condition that I found a new employer.So I went off in search of an employer. He had to be a European, as no Indians could employindentured labour. At that time I knew very few Europeans. I met one of them. He very kindlyagreed to take on Balasundaram. I gratefully acknowledged his kindness. The magistrateconvicted Balasundarams employer, and recorded that he had undertaken to transfer theindenture to someone else.Balasundarams case reached the ears of every indentured labourer, and I came to be regardedas their friend. I hailed this connection with delight. A regular stream of indentured labourersbegan to pour into my office, and I got the best opportunity of learning their joys and sorrows.The echoes of Balasundarams case were heard in far off Madras. Labourers from different partsof the province, who went to Natal on indenture, came to know of this case through theirindentured brethren.There was nothing extraordinary in the case itself, but the fact that there was someone in Natal toespouse their cause and publicly work for them gave the indentured labourers a joyful surpriseand inspired them with hope.I have said that Balasundaram entered my office, head-gear in hand. There was a peculiarpathos about the circumstance which also showed our humiliation. I have already narrated theincident when I was asked to take off my turban. A practice had been forced upon everyindentured labourer and every Indian stranger to take off his head- gear when visiting aEuropean, whether the head-gear were a cap, a turban or a scarf wrapped round the head. Asalute even with both hands was not sufficient. Balasundaram thought that he should follow thepractice even with me. This was the first case in my experience. I felt humiliated and asked him totie up his scarf. He did so, not without a certain hesitation, but I could perceive the pleasure onhis face.It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honoured by the humiliation oftheir fellow beings. Chapter 46 THE £ 3 TAXBalasundarams case brought me into touch with the indentured Indians. What impelled me,however, to make a deep study of their condition was the campaign for bringing them underspecial heavy taxation.
  82. In the same year, 1894, the Natal Government sought to impose an annual tax of £ 25 on theindentured Indians. The proposal astonished me. I put the matter before the Congress fordiscussion, and it was immediately resolved to organize the necessary opposition.At the outset I must explain briefly the genesis of the tax.About the year 1860 the Europeans in Natal, finding that there was considerable scope forsugarcane cultivation, felt themselves in need of labour. Without outside labour the cultivation ofcane and the manufacture of sugar were impossible, as the Natal Zulus were not suited to thisform of work. The Natal Government therefore corresponded with the Indian Government, andsecured their permission to recruit Indian labour. These recruits were to sign an indenture to workin Natal for five years, and at the end of the term they were to be at liberty to settle there and tohave full rights of ownership of land. Those were the inducements held out to them, for the whitesthen had looked forward to improving their agriculture by the industry of the Indian labourers afterthe term of their indentures had expired.But the Indians gave more than had been expected of them. They grew large quantities ofvegetables. They introduced a number of Indian varieties and made it possible to grow the localvarieties cheaper. They also introduced the mango. Nor did their enterprise stop at agriculture.They entered trade. They purchased land for building, and many raised themselves from thestatus of labourers to that of owners of land and houses. Merchants from India followed them andsettled there for trade. The late Sheth Abubakar Amod was first among them. He soon built up anextensive business.The white traders were alarmed. When they first welcomed the Indian labourers, they had notreckoned with their business skill. They might be tolerated as independent agriculturists, but theircompetition in trade could not be brooked.This sowed the seed of the antagonism to Indians. Many other factors contributed to its growth.Our different ways of living, our simplicity, our contentment with small gains, our indifference tothe laws of hygiene and sanitation, our slowness in keeping our surroundings clean and tidy, andour stinginess in keeping our houses in good repair all these, combined with the difference inreligion, contributed to fan the flame of antagonism. Through legislation this antagonism found itsexpression in the disfranchising bill and the bill to impose a tax on the indentured Indians.Independent of legislation a number of pinpricks had already been started.The first suggestion was that the Indian labourers should be forcibly repatriated, so that the termof their indentures might expire in India. The Government of India was not likely to accept thesuggestion. Another proposal was therefore made to the effect that1. The indentured labourer should return to India on the expiry of his indenture; or that2. he should sign a fresh indenture every two years, an increment being given at each renewal;and that3. in the case of his refusal to return to India or renew the indenture he should pay an annual taxof £ 25.A deputation composed of Sir Henry Binns and Mr. Mason was sent to India to get the proposalapproved by the Government there. The Viceroy at that time was Lord Elgin. He disapproved ofthe £ 25 tax, but agreed to a poll tax of £ 3. I thought then, as I do even now, that this was aserious blunder on the part of the Viceroy. In giving his approval he had in no way thought of theinterests of India. It was no part of his duty thus to accommodate the Natal Europeans. In thecourse of three or four years an indentured labourer with his wife and each male child over 16
  83. and female child over 13 came under the impost. To levy a yearly tax of £ 12 from a family of fourhusband, wife and two children when the average income of the husband was never more than14s. a month, was atrocious and unknown anywhere else in the world.We organized a fierce campaign against this tax. If the Natal Indian Congress had remainedsilent on the subject, the Viceroy might have approved of even the £ 25 tax. The reduction from £25 to £ 3 was probably due solely to the Congress agitation. But I may be mistaken in thinking so.It may be possible that the Indian Government had disapproved of the £ 25 tax from thebeginning and reduced it to £3, irrespective of the opposition from the Congress. In any case itwas a breach of trust on the part of the Indian Government. As trustee of the welfare of India, theViceroy ought never to have approved of this inhuman tax.The Congress could not regard it as any great achievement to have succeeded in getting the taxreduced from £ 25 to £3. The regret was still there that it had not completely safeguarded theinterests of the indentured Indians. It ever remained its determination to get the tax remitted, but itwas twenty years determination to get the tax remitted, but it was twenty years before thedetermination was realized. And when it was realized, it came as a result of the labours of notonly the Natal Indians but of all the Indians in South Africa. The breach of faith with the late Mr.Gokhale became the occasion of the final campaign, in which the indentured Indians took theirfull share, some of them losing their lives as a result of the firing that was resorted to, and overten thousand suffering imprisonment.But truth triumphed in the end. The sufferings of the Indians were the expression of that truth. Yetit would not have triumphed except for unflinching faith, great patience and incessant effort. Hadthe community given up the struggle, had the Congress abandoned the campaign and submittedto the tax as inevitable, the hated impost would have continued to be levied from the indenturedIndians until this day, to the eternal shame of the Indians in South Africa and of the whole ofIndia. Chapter 47 COMPARATIVE STUDY OF RELIGIONSIf I found myself entirely absorbed in the service of the community, the reason behind it was mydesire for self-realization. I had made the religion of service my own, as I felt that God could berealized only through service. And service for me was the service of India, because it came to mewithout my seeking, because I had an aptitude for it. I had gone to South Africa for travel, forfinding an escape from Kathiawas intrigues and for gaining my own livelihood. But as I have said,I found myself in search of God and striving for self- realization.Christian friends had whetted my appetite for knowledge, which had become almost insatiable,and they would not leave me in peace, even if I desired to be indifferent. In Durban Mr. SpencerWalton, the head of the South Africa General Mission, found me out. I became almost a memberof his family. At the back of this acquaintance was of course my contact with Christians inPretoria. Mr. Walton had a manner all his own. I do not recollect his ever having invited me toembrace Christianity. But he placed his life as an open book before me, and let me watch all hismovements. Mrs. Walton was a very gentle and talented woman. I liked the attitude of thiscouple. We knew the fundamental differences between us. Any amount of discussion could notefface them. Yet even differences prove helpful, where there are tolerance, charity and truth. I
  84. liked Mr. and Mrs. Waltons humility, perseverance and devotion to work, and we met veryfrequently.This friendship kept alive my interest in religion. It was impossible now to get the leisure that Iused to have in Pretoria for my religious studies. But what little time I could spare I turned to goodaccount. My religious correspondence continued. Raychandbhai was guiding me. Some friendsent me Narmadashankers book Dharma Vichar. Its preface proved very helpful. I had heardabout the Bohemian way in which the poet had lived, and a description in the preface of therevolution effected in his life by his religious studies captivated me. I came to like the book, andread it from cover to cover with attention. I read with interest Max Mullers book, India What Can ItTeach Us? and the translation of the Upanishads published by the Theosophical Society. All thisenhanced my regard for Hinduism, and its beauties began other religions. I read WashingtonIrvings Life of Mahomet and His Successors and Carlyles panegyric on the prophet. Thesebooks raised Muhammad in my estimation. I also read a book called The Sayings of Zarathustra.Thus I gained more knowledge of the different religions. The study stimulated my self-introspection and fostered in me the habit of putting into practice whatever appealed to me in mystudies. Thus I began some of the Yogic practices, as well as I could understand them from areading of the Hindu books. But I could not get on very far, and decided to follow them with thehelp of some expert when I returned to India. The desire has never been fulfilled.I made too an intensive study of Tolstoys books. The Gospels in Brief, What to Do? and otherbooks made a deep impression on me. I began to realize more and more the infinite possibilitiesof universal love.About the same time I came in contact with another Christian family. At their suggestion Iattended the Wesleyan church every Sunday. For these days I also had their standing invitationto dinner. The church did not make a favourable impression on me. The sermons seemed to beuninspiring. The congregation did not strike me as being particularly religious. They were not anassembly of devout souls; they appeared rather to be worldly-minded people, going to church forrecreation and in conformity to custom. Here, at times, I would involuntarily doze. I was ashamed,but some of my neighbours, who were in no better case, lightened the shame. I could not go onlong like this, and soon gave up attending the service.My connection with the family I used to visit every Sunday was abruptly broken. In fact it may besaid that I was warned to visit it no more. It happened thus. My hostess was a good and simplewoman, but somewhat narrow-minded. We always discussed religious subjects. I was then re-reading Arnolds Light of Asia. Once we began to compare the life of Jesus with that of Buddha.Look at Gautamas compassion! said I. It was not confined to mankind, it was extended to allliving beings. Does not ones heart overflow with love to think of the lamb joyously perched on hisshoulders? One fails to notice this love for all living beings in the life of Jesus. The comparisonpained the good lady. I could understand her feelings. I cut the matter short, and we went to thedining room. Her son, a cherub aged scarcely five, was also with us. I am happiest when in themidst of children, and this youngster and I had long been friends. I spoke derisively of the piece ofmeat on his plate and in high praise of the apple on mine. The innocent boy was carried awayand joined in my praise of the fruit.But the mother? she was dismayed.I was warned. I checked myself and changed the subject. The following week I visited the familyas usual, but not without trepidation. I did not see that I should stop going there, I did not think itproper either. But the good lady made my way easy.
  85. Mr. Gandhi, she said, please dont take it ill if I feel obliged to tell you that my boy is none thebetter for your company. Every day he hesitates to eat meat and asks for fruit, reminding me ofyour argument. This is too much. If he gives up meat, he is bound to get weak, if not ill. Howcould I bear it? Your discussion should henceforth be only with us elders. They are sure to reactbadly on children.Mrs---, I replied, I am sorry. I can understand your feelings as a parent, for I too have children.We can very easily end this unpleasant state of things. What I eat and omit to eat is bound tohave a greater effect on the child than what I say. The best way, therefore, is for me to stop thesevisits. That certainly need not affect our friendship.I thank you, she said with evident relief. Chapter 48 AS A HOUSEHOLDERTo set up a household was no new experience for me. But the establishment in Natal wasdifferent from the ones that I had had in Bombay and London. This time part of the expense wassolely for the sake of prestige. I thought it necessary to have a household in keeping with myposition as an Indian barrister in Natal and as a representative. So I had a nice little house in aprominent locality. It was also suitably furnished. Food was simple, but as I used to invite Englishfriends and Indian co-workers, the housekeeping bills were always fairly high.A good servant is essential in every household. But I have a never known how to keep anyone asa servant.I had a friend as companion and help, and a cook who had become a member of the family. I alsohad office clerks boarding and lodging with me.I think I had a fair amount of success in this experiment, but it was not without its modicum of thebitter experiences of life.The companion was very clever and, I thought, faithful to me. But in this I was deceived. Hebecame jealous of an office clerk who was staying with me, and wove such a tangled web that Isuspected the clerk. This clerical friend had a temper of his own. Immediately he saw that he hadbeen the object of my suspicion, he left both the house and the office. I was pained. I felt thatperhaps I had been unjust to him, and my conscience always stung me.In the meanwhile, the cook needed a few days leave, or for some other cause was away. It wasnecessary to procure another during his absence. Of this new man I learnt later that he was aperfect scamp. But for me he proved a godsend. Within two or three days of his arrival, hediscovered certain irregularities that were going on under my roof without my knowledge, and hemade up his mind to warn me. I had the reputation of being a credulous but straight man. Thediscovery was to him, therefore, all the more shocking. Every day at one oclock I used to gohome from office for lunch. At about twelve oclock one day the cook came panting to the office,and said, Please come home at once. There is a surprise for you.
  86. Now, what is this? I asked. You must tell me what it is. How can I leave the office at this hour togo and see it?You will regret it, if you dont come. That is all I can say.I felt an appeal in his persistence. I went home accompanied by a clerk and the cook who walkedahead of us. He took me straight to the upper floor, pointed at my companions room, and said,Open this door and see for yourself.I saw it all. I knocked at the door. No reply! I knocked heavily so as to make the very walls shake.The door was opened. I saw a prostitute inside. I asked her to leave the house, never to return.To the companion I said, From this moment I cease to have anything to do with you. I have beenthoroughly deceived and have made a fool of myself. That is how you have requited my trust inyou?Instead of coming to his senses, he threatened to expose me.I have nothing to conceal, said I, Expose whatever I may have done. But you must leave me thismoment.This made him worse. There was no help for it. So I said to the clerk standing downstairs: Pleasego and inform the Police Superintendent, with my compliments, that a person living with me hasmisbehaved himself. I do not want to keep him in my house, but he refuses to leave. I shall bemuch obliged if police help can be sent me.This showed him that I was in earnest. His guilt unnerved him. He apologized to me, entreatedme not to inform the police, and agreed to leave the house immediately, which he did.The incident came as a timely warning in my life. Only now could I see clearly how thoroughly Ihad been beguiled by this evil genius. In harbouring him I had chosen a bad means for a goodend. I had expected to gather figs of thistles I had known that the companion was a badcharacter, and yet I believed in his faithfulness to me. In the attempt to reform him I was nearruining myself. I had disregarded the warning of kind friends. Infatuation had completely blindedme.But for the new cook I should never have discovered the truth and being under the influence ofthe companion, I should probably have been unable to lead the life of detachment that I thenbegan. I should always have been wasting time on him. He had the power to keep me in the darkand to mislead me.But God came to the rescue as before. My intentions were pure, and so I was saved in spite ofmy mistakes, and this early experience thoroughly forewarned me for the future.The cook had been almost a messenger sent from Heaven. He did not know cooking, and as acook he could not have remained at my place. But no one else could have opened my eyes. Thiswas not the first time, as I subsequently learnt, that the woman had been brought into my house.She had come often before, but no one had the courage of this cook. For everyone knew howblindly I trusted the companion. The cook had, as it were, been sent to me just to do this service,for he begged leave of me that very moment.I cannot stay in your house, he said. You are so easily misled. This is no place for me.
  87. I let him go.I now discovered that the man who had poisoned my ears against the clerk was no other than thiscompanion, I tried very hard to make amends to the clerk for the injustice I had done him. It has,however, been my eternal regret that I could never satisfy him fully. Howsoever you may repair it,a rift is a rift. Chapter 49 HOMEWARDBy now I had been three years in South Africa. I had got to know the people and they had gotto know me. In 1896 I asked permission to go home for six months, for I saw that I was in for along stay there. I had established a fairly good practice, and could see that people felt the need ofmy presence. So I made up my mind to go home, fetch my wife and children, and then return andsettle out there. I also saw that, if I went home, I might be able to do there some public work byeducating public opinion and creating more interest in the Indians of South Africa. The £ 3 taxwas an open sore. There could be no peace until it was abolished.But who was to take charge of the Congress work and Education Society in my absence? I couldthink of two men Adamji Miyakhan and Parsi Rustomji. There were many workers now availablefrom the commercial class. But the foremost among those who could fulfil the duties of thesecretary by regular work, and who also commanded the regard of the Indian community, werethese two. The secretary certainly needed a working knowledge of English. I recommended thelate Adamji Miyakhans name to the Congress, and it approved of his appointment as secretary.Experience showed that the choice was a very happy one. Adamji Miyakhan satisfied all with hisperseverance, liberality, amiability and courtesy, and proved to every one that the secretaryswork did not require a man with a barristers degree or high English education.About the middle of 1896 I sailed for home in the s. s. Pongola which was bound for Calcutta.There were very few passengers on board. Among them were two English oficers, with whom Icame in close contact. With one of them I used to play chess for an hour daily. The ships doctorgave me a Tamil Self- Teacher which I began to study. My experience in Natal had shown methat I should acquire a knowledge of Urdu to get into closer contact with the Musalmans, and ofTamil to get into closer touch with the Madras Indians.At the request of the English friend, who read Urdu with me, I found out a good Urdu Munshi fromamongst he deck passengers, and we made excellent progress in our studies. The officer had abetter memory than I. He would never forget a word after once he had seen it; I often found itdifficult to decipher Urdu letters. I brought more perseverance to bea, but could never overtakethe officer.With Tamil I made fair progress. There was no help available, but the Tamil Self-Teacher waswell-written book, and I did not feel in need of much outside help.I had hoped to continue these studies even after reaching India, but it was impossible. Most of myreading since 1893 has been done in jail. I did make some progress in Tamil and Urdu, in jails -
  88. Tamil in South African jails, and Urdu in Yeravda jail. But I never learnt to speak Tamil, and thelittle I could do by way of reading is now rusting away for want of practice.I still feel what a handicap this ignorance of Tamil or Telugu has been. The affection that theDravidians in South Africa showered on me has remained a cherished memory. Whenever I seea Tamil or Telugu friend, I cannot but recall the faith, perseverance and selfless sacrifice of manyof his compatriots in South Africa. And they were mostly illiterate, the men no less than thewomen. The fight in South Africa was for such, and it was fought by illiterate soldiers; it was forthe poor, and the poor took their full share in it. Ignorance of their language, however, was nevera handicap to me in stealing the hearts of these simple and good countrymen. They spoke brokenHindustani or broken English, and we found no difficulty in getting on with our work. But I wantedto requite their affection by learning Tamil and Telugu. In Tamil as I have said, I made some littleprogress, but in Telugu, which I tried to learn in India, I did not get beyond the alphabet. I fearnow I can never learn these languages, and am therefore hoping that the Dravidians will learnHindustani. The non-english-speaking among them in South Africa do speak Hindi or Hindustani,however indifferently. It is only the English-speaking ones who will not learn it, as though aknowledge of English were an obstacle to learning our own languages.But I have digressed. Let me finish the narrative of my voyage. I have to introduce to my readersthe Captain of the s.s. Poongola. We had become friends. The good Captain was a PlymouthBrother. Our talks were more about spiritual subjects than nautical. He drew a line betweenmorality and faith. The teaching of the Bible was to him childs play. Its beauty lay in its simplicity.Let all, men, women and children, he would say, have faith in Jesus and his sacrifice, and theirsins were sure to be redeemed. This friend revived my memory of the Plymouth Brother ofPretoria. The religion that imposed any moral restrictions was of the whole of this discussion.Why should I not eat meat, or for that matter beef? Had not god created all the lower animals forthe enjoyment of mankind as, for instance, he had created the vegetable kingdom? Thesequestions inevitably drew us into religious discussion.We could not convince each other. I was confirmed in my opinion that religion and morality weresynonymous. The Captain had no doubt about the correctness of his opposite conviction.At the end of twenty-four days the pleasant voyage came to a close, and admiring the beauty ofthe Hooghly, I landed at Calcutta. The same day I took the train for Bombay. Chapter 50 IN INDIAOn my way to Bombay the train stopped at Allahabad for forty-five minutes. I decided to utilizethe interval for a drive through the town. I also had to purchase some medicine at a chemistsshop. The chemist was half asleep, and took an unconscionable time in dispensing the medicine,with the result that when I reached the station, the train had just started. The Station Master hadkindly detained the train one minute for my sake, but not seeing me coming, had carefully orderedmy luggage to be taken out of the train.I took a room at Kellners, and decided to start work there and then. I had heard a good dealabout The Pioneer published from Allahabad, and I had understood it to be an opponent of Indian
  89. aspirations. I have an impression that Mr. Chesney Jr. was the editor at that time. I wanted tosecure the help of every party, so I wrote a note to Mr. Chesney, telling him how I had missed thetrain, and asking for an appointment so as to enable me to leave the next day. He immediatelygave me one, at which I was very happy especially when I found that he gave me a patienthearing. He promised to notice in his paper anything that I might write, but added that he couldnot promise to endorse all the Indian demands, inasmuch as he was bound to understand andgive due weight to the viewpoint of the Colonials as well.It is enough, I said, that you should study the question and discuss it in your paper. I ask anddesire nothing but the barest justice that is due to us.The rest of the day was spent in having a look round admiring the magnificent confluence of thethree rivers, the Triveni, and planning the work before me.This unexpected interview with the editor of The Pioneer laid the foundation of the series ofincidents which ultimately led to my being lynched in Natal.I went straight to Rajkot without halting at Bombay and began to make preparations for writing apamphlet on the situation in South Africa. The writing and publication of the pamphlet took abouta month. It had a green cover and came to be known afterwards as the Green Pamphlet. In it Idrew a purposely subdued picture of the condition of Indians in South Africa. The language I usedwas more moderate than that of the two pamphlets which I have referred to before, as I knew thatthings heard of from a distance appear bigger than they are.Ten thousand copies were printed and sent to all the papers and leaders of every party in India.The Pioneer was the first to notice it editorially. A summary of the article was cabled by Reuter toEngland, and a summary of that summary was cabled to Natal by Reuters London office. Thiscable was not longer than three lines in print. It was a miniature, but exaggerated, edition of thepicture I had drawn of the treatment accorded to the Indians in Natal, and it was not in my words.We shall see later on the effect this had in Natal. In the meanwhile every paper of notecommented at length on the question.To get these pamphlets ready for posting was no small matter. It would have been expensive too,if I had employed paid help for preparing wrappers etc. But I hit upon a much simpler plan. Igathered together all the children in my locality and asked them to volunteer two or three hourslabour of a morning, when they had no school. This they willingly agreed to do. I promised tobless them and give them, as a reward, used postage stamps which I had collected. They gotthrough the work in no time. That was my first experiment of having little children as volunteers.Two of those little friends are my co-workers today.Plague broke out in Bombay about this time, and there was panic all around. There was fear ofan outbreak in Rajkot. As I felt that I could be of some help in the sanitation department, I offeredmy services to the State. They were accepted, and I was put on the committee which wasappointed to look into the question. I laid especial emphasis on the cleanliness of latrines, and thecommittee decided to inspect these in every street. The poor people had no objection to theirlatrines being inspected, and what is more, they carried out the improvements suggested to them.But when we went to inspect the houses of the upper ten, some of them even refused usadmission, not to talk of listening to our suggestions. It was our common experience that thelatrines of the rich were more unclean. They were dark and stinking and reeking with filth andworms. The improvements we suggested were quite simple, e.g., to have buckets for excrementinstead of allowing it to drop on the ground; to see that urine also was collected in buckets,instead of allowing it to soak into the ground, and to demolish the partitions between the outerwalls and the enable the scavenger to clean them properly. The upper classes raised numerousobjections to this last improvement, and in most cases it was not carried out.
  90. The committee had to inspect untouchables quarters also. Only one member of the committeewas ready to accompany me there. To the rest it was something preposterous to visit thosequarters, still more so to inspect their latrines. But for me those quarters were an agreeablesurprise. That was the first visit in my life to such a locality. The men and women there weresurprised to see us. I asked them to let us inspect their latrines.Latrines for us! they exclaimed in astonishment. We go and perform our functions out in theopen. Latrines are for you big people.Well, then, you wont mind if we inspect your houses? I asked.You are perfectly welcome, sir. You may see every nook and corner of our houses. Ours are nohouses, they are holes.I went in and was delighted to see that the insides were as clean as the outsides. The entranceswere well swept, the floors were beautifully smeared with cow-dung, and the few pots and panswere clean and shining. There was no fear of an outbreak in those quarters.In the upper class quarters we came across a latrine which I cannot help describing in somedetail. Every room had its gutter, which was used both for water and urine, which meant that thewhole house would stink. But one of the houses had a storeyed bedroom with a gutter which wasbeing used both as a urinal and a latrine. The gutter had a pipe discending to the ground floor. Itwas not possible to stand the foul smell in this room. How the occupants could sleep there I leavethe readers to imagine.The committee also visited the Vaishnava Haveli. The priest in charge of the Haveli was veryfriendly with my family. So he agreed to let us inspect everything and suggest whateverimprovements we liked. There was a part of the Haveli premises that he himself had never seen.It was the place where refuse and leaves used as dinner- plates used to be thrown over the wall.It was the haunt of crows and kites. The latrines were of course dirty. I was not long enough inRajkot to see how many of our suggestions the priest carried out.It pained me to see so much uncleanliness about a place of worship. One would expect a carefulobservance of the rules of sanitation and hygiene in a place which is regarded as holy. Theauthors of the Smritis, as I knew even then, have laid the greatest emphasis on cleanliness bothinward and outward. Chapter 51 TWO PASSIONSHardly ever have I known anybody to cherish such loyalty as I did to the British Constitution. Ican see now that my love of truth was at the root of this loyalty. It has never been possible for meto simulate loyalty or, for that matter, any other virtue. The national Anthem used to be sung atevery meeting that I attended in Natal. I was unaware of the defects in British rule, but I thoughtthat it was on the whole acceptable. In those days I believed that British rule was on the wholebeneficial to the ruled.
  91. The colour prejudice that I saw in South Africa was, I thought, quite contrary to British traditions,and I believed that it was only temporary and local. I therefore vied with Englishmen in loyalty tothe throne. With careful perseverance I learnt the tune of the national anthem and joined in thesinging whenever it was sung. Whenever there was an occasion for the expression of loyaltywithout fuss or ostentation, I readily took part in it.Never in my life did I exploit this loyalty, never did I seek to gain a selfish end by its means. It wasfor me more in the nature of an obligation, and I rendered it without expecting a reward.Preparations were going on for the celebration of Queen Victorias Diamond Jubilee when Ireached India. I was invited to join the committee appointed for the purpose in Rajkot. I acceptedthe offer, but had a suspicion that the celebrations would be largely a matter of show. Idiscovered much humbug about them and was considerably pained. I began to ask myselfwhether I should remain on the committee or not, but ultimately decided to rest content with doingmy part of the business.One of the proposals was to plant trees. I saw that many did it merely for show and for pleasingthe officials. I tried to plead with them that tree-planting was not compulsory, but merely asuggestion. It should be done seriously or not at all. I have an impression that they laughed at myideas. I remember that I was in earnest when I planted the tree allotted to me and that I carefullywatered and tended it.I likewise taught the National Anthem to the children of my family. I recollect having taught it tostudents of the local Training College, but I forget whether it was on the occasion of the jubilee orof King Edward VIIs coronation as Emperor of India. Later on the text began to jar on me. As myconception of ahimsa went on maturing, I became more vigilant about my thought and speech.The lines in the Anthem: Scatter her enemies, And make them fall; Confound their politics,Frustrate their knavish tricks. particularly jarred upon my sentiment of ahimsa. I shared myfeelings with Dr. Booth who agreed that it ill became a believer in ahimsa to sing those lines. Howcould we assume that the so-called enemies were knavish? And because they were enemies,were they bound to be in the wrong? From God we could only ask for justice. Dr. Booth entirelyendorsed my sentiments, and composed a new anthem for his congregation. But of Dr. Boothmore later.Like loyalty an aptitude for nursing was also deeply rooted in my nature. I was fond of nursingpeople, whether friends or strangers.Whilst busy in Rajkot with the pamphlet on South Africa, I had an occasion to pay a flying visit toBombay. It was my intention to educate public opinion in cities on this question by organizingmeetings, and Bombay was the first city I chose. First of all I met justice Ranade, who listened tome with attention, and advised me to meet Sir Pherozeshah Mehta. Justice Badruddin Tyabji,whom I met next, also gave the same advice. Justice Ranade and I can guide you but little, hesaid. You know our position. We cannot take an active part in public affairs, but our sympathiesare with you. The man who can effectively guide you is Sir Pherozeshah Mehta.I certainly wanted to see Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, but the fact that these senior men advised meto act according to his advice gave me a better idea of the immense influence that SirPherozeshah had on the public. In due course I met him. I was prepared to be awed by hispresence. I had heard of the popular titles that he had earned, and knew that I was to see theLion of Bombay, the Uncrowned King of the Presidency. But the king did not overpower me. Hemet me, as a loving father would meet his grown up son. Our meeting took place at his chamber.He was surrounded by a circle of friends and followers. Amongst them were Mr. D. E. Wacha andMr. Cama, to whom I was introduced. I had already heard of Mr. Wacha. He was regarded as the
  92. right-hand man of Sir Pherozeshah, and Sjt. Virchand Gandhi had described him to me as a greatstatistician. Mr. Wacha said, Gandhi, we must meet again.These introductions could scarcely have taken two minutes. Sir Pherozeshah carefully listened tome. I told him that I had seen Justices Ranade and Tyabji. Gandhi, said he, I see that I musthelp you. I must call a public meeting here. With this he turned to Mr. Munshi, the secretary, andtold him to fix up the date of the meeting. The date was settled, and he bade me good-bye,asking me to see him again on the way previous to the meeting. The interview removed my fears,and I went home delighted.During this stay in Bombay I called on my brother-in-law, who was staying there and lying ill. Hewas not a man of means, and my sister(his wife) was not equal to nursing him. The illness wasserious, and I offered to take him to Rajkot. He agreed, and so I returned home with my sister andher husband. The illness was much more prolonged than I had expected. I put my brother-in-lawin my room and remained with him night and day. I was obliged to keep awake part of the nightand had to get through some of my South African work whilst I was nursing him. Ultimately,however, the patient died, but it was a great consolation to me that I had had an opportunity tonurse him during his last days.My aptitude for nursing gradually developed into a passion, so much so that it often led me toneglect my work, and on occasions I engaged not only my wife but the whole household in suchservice.Such service can have no meaning unless one takes pleasure in it. When it is done for show orfor fear of public opinion, it stunts the man and crushes his spirit. Service which is renderedwithout joy helps neither the servant nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions paleinto nothingness before service which is rendered in a spirit of joy. Chapter 52 THE BOMBAY MEETINGOn the very day after my brother-in-laws death I had to go to Bombay for the public meeting.There had hardly been time for me to think out my speech. I was feeling exhausted after daysand nights of anxious vigil, and my voice had become husky. However, I went to Bombay trustingentirely to God. I had never dreamt of writing out my speech.In accordance with Sir Pherozeshahs instructions I reported myself at his office at 5 P. M. on theeve of the meeting.Is your speech ready, Gandhi? he asked.No sir, said I, trembling with fear, I think of speaking ex tempore.That will not do in Bombay. Reporting here is bad, and if we would benefit by this meeting, youshould write out your speech, and it should be printed before daybreak tomorrow. I hope you canmanage this?
  93. I felt rather nervous, but I said I would try.Then, tell me, what time Mr. Munshi should come to you for the manuscript?Eleven oclock tonight, said I.On going to the meeting the next day, I saw the wisdom of Sir Pherozeshahs advice. Themeeting was held in the hall of the Sir Cowasji Jehangir Institute. I had heard that when SirPherozeshah Mehta addressed meetings the hall was always packed. Chiefly by the studentsintent on hearing him, leaving not an inch of room. This was the first meeting of the kind in myexperience. I saw that my voice could reach only a few. I was trembling as I began to read myspeech. Sir Pherozeshah cheered me up continually by asking me to speak louder and stilllouder. I have a feeling that, far from encouraging me, it made my voice sink lower and lower.My old friend Sjt. Keshavrao Deshpande came to my rescue. I handed my speech to him. Hiswas just the proper voice. But the audience refused to listen. The hall rang with the cries ofWacha, Wacha. So Mr. Wacha stood up and read the speech, with wonderful results. Theaudience became perfectly quiet, and listened to the speech to the end, punctuating it withapplause and cries of shame where necessary. This gladdened my heart.Sir Pherozeshah liked the speech. I was supremely happy.The meeting won me the active sympathy of Sjt. Deshpande and a Parsi friend, whose name Ihesitate to mention, as he is a high-placed Government official today. Both expressed theirresolve to accompany me to South Africa. Mr. C. M. Cursetji, who was then Small Causes CourtJudge, however, moved the Parsi friend from his resolve as he had plotted his marriage. He hadto choose between marriage and going to South Africa, and he chose the former. But ParsiRustomji made amends for the broken resolve, and a number of Parsi sisters are now makingamends for the lady who helped in the breach by dedicating themselves to Khadi work. I havetherefore gladly forgiven that couple, Sjt. Deshpande had no temptations of marriage, but he toocould not come. Today he is himself doing enough reparation for the broken pledge. On my wayback to South Africa I met one of the Tyabjis at Zanzibar. He also promised to come and help me,but never came. Mr. Abbas Tyabji is atoning for that offence. Thus none of my three attempts toinduce barristers to go to South Africa bore any fruit.In this connection I remember Mr. Pestonji Padshah. I had been on friendly terms with him eversince my stay in England. I first met him in a vegetarian restaurant in London. I knew of hisbrother Mr. Barjorji padshah by his reputation as a crank. I had never met him, but friends saidthat he was eccentric. Out of pity for the horses he would not ride in tram-cars, he refused to takedegrees in spite of a prodigious memory, he had developed an independent spirit, and he was avegetarian, though a Parsi. Pestonji had not quite this reputation, but he was famous for hiserudition even in London. The common factor between us, however, was vegetarianism, and notscholarship in which it was beyond my power to approach him.I found him out again in Bombay. He was Prothonotary in the High Court. When I met him he wasengaged on his contribution to a Higher Gujarati Dictonary. There was not a friend I had notapproached for help in my South African work. Pestonji Padshah, however, not only refused toaid me, but even advised me not to return to South Africa.It is impossible to help you, he said. But I tell you I do not like even your going to South Africa. Isthere lack of work in our country? Look, now, there is not a little to do for our language. I have tofind out scientific words. But this is only one branch of the work. Think of the poverty of the land.Our people in South Africa are no doubt in difficulty, but I do not want a man like you to besacrificed for that work. Let us win self-government here, and we shall automatically help our
  94. countrymen there. I know I cannot prevail upon you, but I will not encourage anyone of your typeto throw in his lot with you.I did not like this advice, but it increased my regard for Mr. Pestonji Padshah. I was struck with hislove for the country and for the mother tongue. The incident brought us closer to each other. Icould understand his point of view. But far from giving up my work in South Africa, I becamefirmer in my resolve. A patriot cannot afford to ignore any branch of service to the motherland.And for me the text of the Gita was clear and emphatic: Finally, this is better, that one do His owntask as he may, even though he fail, Than take tasks not his own, though they seem good. To dieperforming duty is no ill; But who seeks other roads shall wander still. Chapter 53 POONA AND MADRASSir Pherozeshah had made my way easy. So from Bombay I went to Poona. Here there weretwo parties. I wanted the help of people of every shade of opinion. First I met Lokamanya Tilak.He said:You are quite right in seeking the help of all parties. There can be no difference of opinion on theSouth African question. But you must have a non-party man for your president. Meet ProfessorBhandarkar. He has been taking no part of late in any public movement. But this question mightpossibly drew him out. See him and let me know what he says. I want to help you to the fullestextent. Of course you will meet me whenever you like. I am at your disposal.This was my first meeting with the Lokamanya. It revealed to me the secret of his uniquepopularity.Next I met Gokhale. I found him on the Fergusson College grounds. He gave me an affectionatewelcome, and his manner immediately won my heart. With him too this was my first meeting, andyet it seemed as though we were renewing an old friendship. Sir Pherozeshah had seemed to melike the Himalaya, the Lokamanya like the ocean. But Gokhale was as the Ganges. One couldhave a refreshing bath in the holy river. The Himalaya was unscaleable, and one could not easilylaunch forth on the sea, but the Ganges invited one to its bosom. It was a joy to be on it with aboat and an oar. Gokhale closely examined me, as a schoolmaster would examine a candidateseeking admission to a school. He told me whom to approach and how to approach them. Heasked to have a look at me speech. He showed me over the college, assured me that he wasalways at my disposal, asked me to let him know the result of the interview with Dr. Bhandarkar,and sent me away exultantly happy. In the sphere of politics the place that Gokhale occupied inmy heart during his lifetime and occupies even now was and is absolutely unique.Dr. Bhandarkar received me with the warmth of a father. It was noon when I called on him. Thevery fact that I was busy seeing people at that hour appealed greatly to this indefatigable savant,and my insistence on a non-party man for the president of the meeting had his ready approval,which was expressed in the spontaneous exclamation, Thats it, Thats it.After he had heard me out he said: Anyone will tell you that I do not take part in politics. But Icannot refuse you. Your case is so strong and your industry is so admirable that I cannot declineto take part in your meeting. You did well in consulting Tilak and Gokhale. Please tell them that I
  95. shall be glad to preside over the meeting to be held under the joint auspices of the two Sabhas.You need not have the time of the meeting from me, Any time that suits them will suit me. Withthis he bade me good-bye with congratulations and blessings.Without any ado this erudite and selfless band of workers in Poona held a meeting in anunostentatious little place, and sent me away rejoicing and more confident of my mission.I next proceeded to Madras. It was wild with enthusiasm. The Balasundaram incident made aprofound impression on the meeting. My speech was printed and was, for me, fairly long. But theaudience listened to every word with attention. At the close of the meeting there was a regular runon the Green Pamphlet. I brought out a second and revised edition of 10,000 copies. They soldlike hot cakes, but I saw that it was not necessary to print such a large number. In my enthusiasmI had overcalculated the demand. It was the English- speaking public to which my speech hadbeen addressed, and in Madras that class alone could not take the whole ten thousand.The greatest help here came to me from the late Sjt. G. Parameshvaran Pillay, the editor of TheMadras Standard. He had made a careful study of the question, and he often invited me to hisoffice and gave me guidance. Sjt. G. Subrahmaniam of The Hindu and Dr. Subrahmaniam alsowere very sympathetic. But Sjt. G. Parameshvaran Pillay placed the columns of The MadrasStandard entirely at my disposal, and I freely availed myself of the offer. The meeting inPachaiappas Hall, so far as I can recollect, was with Dr. Subrahmaniam in the chair.The affection showered on me by most of the friends I met and their enthusiasm for the causewere so great that, in spite of my having to communicate with them in English, I felt myselfentirely at home. What barrier is there that love cannot break? Chapter 54 RETURN SOONFrom Madras I proceeded to Calcutta where I found myself hemmed by difficulties. I knew noone there, so I took a room in the Great Eastern Hotel. Here I became acquainted with Mr.Ellerthorpe, a representative of The Daily Telegraph. He invited me to the Bengal Club, where hewas staying. He did not then realize that an Indian could not be taken to the drawing-room of theclub. Having discovered the restriction, he took me to his room. He expressed his sorrowregarding this prejudice of the local Englishmen and apologized to me for not having been able totake me to the drawing-room.I had of course to see Surendranath Banerji, the Idol of Bengal. When I met him, he wassurrounded by a number of friends. He said: I am afraid people will not take interest in your work.As you know, our difficulties here are by no means few. But you must try as best you can. Youwill have to enlist the sympathy of Maharajas. Mind, you meet the representatives of the BritishIndian Association. You should meet Raja Sir Pyarimohan Mukarji and Maharaja Tagore. Bothare liberal- minded and take a fair share in public work.I met these gentlemen, but without success. Both gave me a cold reception in Calcutta, and ifanything could be done, it would practically all depend on Surendranath Banerji.
  96. I saw that my task was becoming more and more difficult. I called at the office of the Amrita BazarPatrika. The gentleman whom I met there took me to be a wandering jew. The Bangabasi wenteven one better. The editor kept me waiting for an hour. He had evidently many interviewers, buthe would not so much as look at me, even when he had disposed of the rest. On my venturing tobroach my subject after the long wait, he said: Dont you see our hands are full? There is no endto the number of visitors like you. You had better go. I am not disposed to listen to you. For amoment I felt offended, but I quickly understood the editors position. I had heard of the fame ofThe Bangabasi. I could see that there was a regular stream of visitors there. And they were allpeople acquainted with him. His paper had no lack of copies to discuss, and South Africa washardly known at that time.However serious a grievance may be in the eyes of the man who suffers from it, he will be butone of the numerous people invading the editors office, each with a grievance of his own. How isthe editor to meet them all? Moreover, the aggrieved party imagines that the editor is a power inthe land. Only he knows that his power can hardly travel beyond the threshold of his office. But Iwas not discouraged. I kept on seeing editors of other papers. As usual I met the Anglo-Indianeditors also. The Stateman and The Englishman realized the importance of the question. I gavethem long interviews, and they published them in full.Mr. Saunders, editor of The Englishman, claimed me as his own. He placed his office and paperat my disposal. He even allowed me the liberty of making whatever changes I liked in the leadingarticle he had written on the situation, the proof of which he sent me in advance. It is noexaggeration to say that a friendship grew up between us. He promised to render me all the helphe could, carried out the promise to the letter, and kept on his correspondence with me until thetime when he was seriously ill.Throughout my life I have had the privilege of many such friendships, which have sprung up quiteunexpectedly. What Mr. Saunders liked in me was my freedom from exaggeration and mydevotion to truth. He subjected me to a searching cross-examination before he began tosympathize with my cause, and he saw that I had spared neither will nor pains to place beforehim an impartial statement of the case even of the white man in South Africa and also toappreciate it.My experience has shown me that we win justice quickest by rendering justice to the other party.The unexpected help of Mr. Saunders had begun to encourage me to think that I might succeedafter all in holding a public meeting in Calcutta, when I received the following cable from Durban:Parliament opens January. Return soon.So I addressed a letter to the press, in which I explained why I had to leave Calcutta so abruptly,and set off for Bombay. Before starting I wired to the Bombay agent of Dada Abdulla & Co, toarrange for my passage by the first possible boat to South Africa. Dada Abdulla had just thenpurchased the steamship Courland and insisted on my travelling on that boat, offering to take meand my family free of charge. I gratefully accepted the offer, and in the beginning of Decemberset sail a second time for South Africa, now with my wife and two sons and the only son of mywidowed sister. Another steamship Naderi also sailed for Durban at the same time. The agents ofthe Company were Dada Abdulla & Co. The total number of passengers these boats carried musthave been about eight hundred, half of whom were bound for the Transvaal.
  97. Chapter 55 RUMBLINGS OF THE STORMT his was my first voyage with my wife and children. I have often observed in the course of thisnarrative that, on account of child marriages amongst middle class Hindus, the husband will beliterate whilst the wife remains practically unlettered. A wide gulf thus separates them, and thehusband has to become his wifes teacher. So I had to think out the details of the dress to beadopted by my wife and children, the food they were to eat, and the manners which would besuited to their new surroundings. Some of the recollections of those days are amusing to lookback upon.A Hindu wife regards implicit obedience to her husband as the highest religion. A Hindu husbandregards himself as lord and master of his wife who must ever dance attendance upon him.I believed, at the time of which I am writing, that in order to look civilized, our dress and mannershad as far as possible to approximate to the European standard. Because I thought only thuscould we have some influence, and without influence it would not be possible to serve thecommunity.I therefore determined the style of dress for my wife and children. How could I like them to beknown as Kathiawad Banias? The Parsis used then to be regarded as the most civilized peopleamongst Indians, and so, when the complete European style seemed to be unsuited, we adoptedthe Parsi style. Accordingly my wife wore the Parsi sari, and the boys the Parsi coat and trousers.Of course no one could be without shoes and stockings. It was long before my wife and childrencould get used to them. The shoes cramped their feet and the stockings stank with perspiration.The toes often got sore, I always had my answers ready to all these objections. But I have animpression that it was not so much the answers as the force of authority that carried conviction.They agreed to the changes in dress as there was no alternative. In the same spirit and with evenmore reluctance they adopted the use of knives and forks. When my infatuation for these signs ofcivilization wore away, they gave up the knives and forks. After having become long accustomedto the new style, it was perhaps no less irksome for them to return to the original mode. But I cansee today that we feel all the freer and lighter for having cast off the tinsel of civilization.On board the same steamer with us were some relatives and acquaintances. These and otherdeck passengers I frequently met, because, the boat belonging to my client friends, I was free tomove about anywhere and every where I liked.Since the steamer was making straight for Natal, without calling at intermediate ports, our voyagewas of only eighteen days. But as though to warn us of the coming real storm on land, a terriblegale overtook us, whilst we were only four days from Natal. December is a summer month ofmonsoon in the Southern hemisphere, and gales, great and small, are, therefore, quite commonin the Southern sea at that season. The gale in which we were caught was so violent andprolonged that the passengers became alarmed. It was a solemn scene. All became one in faceof the common danger. They forgot their differences and began to think of the one and only God-Musalmans, Hindus, Christians and all. Some took various vows. The captain also joined thepassengers in their prayers. He assured them that, though the storm was not without danger, hehad had experience of many worse ones, and explained to them that a well-built ship could standalmost any weather. But they were inconsolable. Every minute were heard sounds and crasheswhich foreboded breaches and leaks. The ship rocked and rolled to such an extent that it seemedas though she would capsize at any moment. It was out of the question for anyone to remain ondeck. His will be done was the only cry on every lip. So far as I can recollect, we must have been
  98. in this plight for about twenty-four hours. At last the sky cleared, the sun made his appearance,and the captain said that the storm had blown over. Peoples faces beamed with gladness, andwith the disappearance of danger disappeared also the name of God from their lips, Eating anddrinking, singing and merry- making again became the order of the day. The fear of death wasgone, and the momentary mood of earnest prayer gave place to maya. There were of course theusual namaz and he prayers, yet they had none of the solemnity of that dread hour.But the storm had made me one with the passengers. I had little fear of the storm, for I had hadexperience of similar ones. I am a good sailor and do not get sea-sick. So I could fearlessly moveamongst the passengers, bringing them comfort and good cheer, and conveying to them hourlyreports of the captain. The friendship I thus formed stood me, as we shall see, in very good stead.The ship cast anchor in the port of Durban on the 18th or 19th of December. The Naderi alsoreached the same day. But the real storm was still to come. Chapter 56 THE STORMWe have seen that the two ships cast anchor in the port of Durban on or about the 18th ofDecember. No passengers are allowed to land at any of the South African ports before beingsubjected to a thorough medical examination. If the ship has any passenger suffering from acontagious disease, she has to undergo a period of quarantine. As there had been plague inBombay when we met sail, we feared that we might have to go through a brief quarantine. Beforethe examination every ship has to fly a yellow flag, which is lowered only when the doctor hascertified her to be healthy. Relatives and friends of passengers are allowed to come on boardonly after the yellow flag has been lowered.Accordingly our ship was flying the yellow flag,when the doctor came and examined us. Heordered a five days quarantine because, in his opinion, plague germs took twenty-three days atthe most to develop. Our ship was therefore ordered to be put in quarantine until the twenty-thirdday of our sailing from Bombay. But this quarantine order had more than health reasons behind it.The white residents of Durban had been agitating for our repatriation, and the agitation was oneof the reasons for the order. Dada Abdulla and Co. kept us regularly informed about the dailyhappenings in the town. The whites were holding monster meetings every day. They wereaddressing all kinds of threats and at times offering even inducements to Dada Abdulla and Co.They were ready to indemnify the Company if both the ships should be sent back. But DadaAbdulla and Co. were not the people to be afraid of threats. Sheth Abdul Karim Haji Adam wasthen the managing partner of the firm. He was determined to moor the ships at the wharf anddisembark the passengers at any cost. He was daily sending me detailed letters. Fortunately theSjt. Mansukhlal Naazar was then in Durban having gone there to meet me. He was capable andfearless and guided the Indian community. Their advocate Mr. Laughton was an equally fearlessman. He condemned the conduct of the white residents and advised the community, not merelyas their paid advocate, but also as their true friend.Thus Durban had become the scene of an unequal duel. On one side there was a handful of poorIndians and a few of their English friends, and on the other were ranged the white men, strong inarms, in numbers, in education and in wealth. They had also the backing of the State, for the
  99. Natal Government openly helped them. Mr.Harry Escombe, who was the most influential of themembers of the Cabinet, openly took part in their meetings.The real object of the quarantine was thus to coerce the passengers into returning to India bysomehow intimidating them or the Agent Company. For now threats began to be addressed to usalso: If you do not go back, you will surely be pushed into the sea. But if you consent to return,you may even get your passage money back. I constantly moved amongst my fellow-passengerscheering them up. I also sent messages of comfort to the passengers of the s.s.Naderi. All ofthem kept calm and courageous.We arranged all sorts of games on the ship for the entertainment of the passengers. OnChristmas Day the captain invited the saloon passengers to dinner. The principal among thesewere my family and I. In the speeches after dinner I spoke on Western civilization. I knew that thiswas not an occasion for a serious speech. But mine could not be otherwise. I took part in themerriment, but my heart was in the combat that was going on in Durban. For I was the real target.There were two charges against me:1. that whilst in India I had indulged in unmerited condemnation of the Natal whites;2. that with a view to swamping Natal with Indians I had specially brought the two shiploads ofpassengers to settle there.I was conscious of my responsibility. I knew that Dada Abdulla and Co. had incurred grave riskson my account, the lives of the passengers were in danger, and by bringing my family with me Ihad put them likewise in jeopardy.But I was absolutely innocent. I had induced no one to go to Natal. I did not know the passengerswhen they embarked. And with the exception of a couple of relatives, I did not know the nameand address of even one of the hundreds of passengers on board. Neither had I said, whils inIndia, a word about the whites in Natal that I had not already said in Natal itself. And I had ampleevidence in support of all tha I had said.I therefore deplored the civilization of which the Natal whites were the fruit, and which theyrepresented and championed. This civilization had all along been on my mind, and I thereforeoffered my views concerning it in my speech before that little meeting. The captain and otherfriends gave me a patient hearing, and received my speech in the spirit in which it was made. I donot know that it in any way affected the course of their lives, but afterwards I had long talks withthe captain and other officers regarding the civilization of the West. I had in my speech describedWestern civilization as being, unlike the Eastern, predominantly based on force. The questionerspinned me to my faith, and one of them the captain, so far as I can recollect said to me:Supposing the whites carry out their threats, how will you stand by your principle of non-violence? To which I replied: I hope God will give me the courage and the sense to forgive themand to refrain from bringing them to law. I have no anger against them. I am only sorry for theirignorance and their narrowness. I know that they sincerely believe that what they are doing todayis right and proper. I have no reason therefore to be angry with them.The questioner smiled, possibly distrustfully.Thus the days dragged on their weary length. When the quarantine would terminate was stilluncertain. The Quarantine Officer said that the matter had passed out of his hands and that, assoon as he had orders from the Government, he would permit us to land.
  100. At last ultimatums were served on the passengers and me. We were asked to submit, if we wouldescape with our lives. In our reply the passengers and I both maintained our right to land at PortNatal, and intimated our determination to enter Natal at any risk.At the end of twenty-three days the ships were permitted to enter the harbour, and orderspermitting the passengers to land were passed. Chapter 57 THE TESTSo the ships were brought into the dock and the passengers began to go ashore. But Mr.Escombe had sent word to the captain that, as the whites were highly enraged against me andmy life was in danger, my family and I should be advised to land at dusk, when the PortSuperintendent Mr. Tatum would escort us home. The captain communicated the message tome. and I agreed to act accordingly. But scarcely half an hour after this, Mr. Laughton came tothe captain. He said: I would like to take Mr. Gandhi with me, should he have no objection. As thelegal adviser of the Agent Company I tell you that you are not bound to carry out the messageyou have received from Mr. Escombe. After this he came to me and said somewhat to this effect:If you are not afraid, I suggest that Mrs. Gandhi and the children should drive to Mr. Rustomjishouse, whilst you and I follow them on foot. I do not at all like the idea of your entering the city likea thief in the night. I do not think there is any fear of anyone hurting you. Everything is quiet now.The whites have all dispersed. But in any case I am convinced that you ought not to enter the citystealthily. I readily agreed. My wife and children drove safely to Mr. Rustomjis place. With thecaptains permission I went ashore with Mr. Laughton. Mr Rustomjis house was about two milesfrom the dock.As soon as we landed, some youngsters recognized me and shouted Gandhi, Gandhi. Abouthalf a dozen men rushed to the spot and joined in the shouting. Mr. Laughton feared that thecrowd might swell and hailed a rickshaw. I had never liked the idea of being in a rickshaw. Thiswas to be my first experience. But the youngsters would not let me get into it. They frightened therickshaw boy out of his life, and he took to his heels. As we went ahead, the crowd continued toswell, until it became impossible to proceed further. They first caught hold of Mr. Laughton andseparated us. Then they pelted me with stones, brickbats and rotten eggs. Someone snatchedaway my turban, whilst others began to batter and kick me. I fainted and caught hold of the frontrailings of a house and stood there to get my breath. But it was impossible. They came upon meboxing and battering. The wife of the Police Superintendent, who knew me, happened to bepassing by. The brave lady came up, opened her parasol though there was no sun then, andstood between the crowd and me. This checked the fury of the mob, as it was difficult for them todeliver blows on me without harming Mrs. Alexander.Meanwhile an Indian youth who witnessed the incident had run to the police station. The PoliceSuperintendent Mr. Alexander sent a posse of men to ring me round and escort me safely to mydestination. They arrived in time. The police station lay on our way. As we reached there, theSuperintendent asked me to take refuge in the station, but I gratefully declined the offer, Theyare sure to quiet down when they realize their mistake, I said. I have trust in their sense offairness. Escorted by the police, I arrived without further harm at Mr. Rustomjis place. I hadbruises all over, but no abrasions except in one place. Dr. Dadibarjor, the ships doctor, who wason the spot, rendered the best possible help.
  101. There was quiet inside, but outside the whites surrounded the house. Night was coming on, andthe yelling crowd was shouting, We must have Gandhi. The quick-sighted Police Superintendentwas already there trying to keep the crowds under control, not by threats, but by humouring them.But he was not entirely free from anxiety. He sent me a message to this effect: If you would saveyour friends house and property and also your family, you should escape from the house indisguise, as I suggest.Thus on one and the same day I was faced with two contradictory positions. When danger to lifehad been no more than imaginary, Mr. Laughton advised me to launch forth openly. I acceptedthe advice. When the danger was quite real, another friend gave me the contrary advice, and Iaccepted that too. Who can say whether I did so because I saw that my life was in jeopardy, orbecause I did not want to put my friends life and property or the lives of my wife and children indanger? Who can say for certain that I was right both when I faced the crowd in the first instancebravely, as it was said, and when I escaped from it in disguise?It is idle to adjudicate upon the right and wrong of incidents that have already happened. It isuseful to understand them and, if possible, to learn a lesson from them for the future. It is difficultto say for certain how a particular man would act in a particular set of circumstances. We can alsosee that judging a man from his outward act is no more than a doubtful inference, inasmuch as itis not based on sufficient data.Be that as it may, the preparations for escape made me forget my injuries. As suggested by theSuperintendent, I put on an Indian constables uniform and wore on my head a Madrasi scarf,wrapped round a plate to serve as a helmet. Two detectives accompanied me, one of themdisguised as an Indian merchant and with his face painted to resemble that of an Indian. I forgetthe disguise of the other. We reached a neighbouring shop by a by-lane and, making our waythrough the gunny bags piled in the godown, escaped by the gate of the shop and threaded ourway through the crowd to a carriage that had been kept for me at the end of the street. In this wedrove off to the same police station where Mr. Alexander had offered me refuge a short timebefore, and I thanked him and the detective officers.Whilst I had been thus effecting my escape Mr. Alexander had kept the crowd amused by singingthe tune: Hang old Gandhi On the sour apple tree. When he was informed of my safe arrival atthe police station, he thus broke the news to the crowd: Well, your victim had made good hisescape through a neighbouring shop. You had better go home now. Some of them were angry,others laughed, some refused to believe the story.Well then, said the Superintendent, If you do not believe me, you may appoint one or tworepresentatives, whom I am ready to take inside the house, If they succeed in finding out Gandhi,I will gladly deliver him to you. But if they fail, you must disperse. I am sure that you have nointention of destroying Mr. Rustomjis house or of harming Mr. Gandhis wife and children.The crowed sent their representatives to search the house. They soon returned withdisappointing news, and the crowd broke up at last, most of them admiring the Superintendentstactful handling of the situation, and a few fretting and fuming.The late Mr. Chamberlain, who was then Secretary of State for the Colonies, cabled asking theNatal Government to prosecute my assailants. Mr. Escombe sent for me, expressed his regret forthe injuries I had sustained, and said: Believe me, I cannot feel happy over the least little injurydone to your person. You had a right to accept Mr. Laughtons advice and to face the worst, but Iam sure that, if you had considered my suggestion favourably, these sad occurrences would nothave happened. If you can identify the assailants, I am prepared to arrest and prosecute them.Mr. Chamberlain also desires me to do so.
  102. To which I gave the following reply:I do not want to prosecute anyone. It is possible that I may be able to identify one or two of them,but what is the use of getting them punished? Besides, I do not hold the assailants to blame.They were given to understand that I had made exaggerated statements in India about the whitesin Natal and calumniated them. If they believed these reports, it is no wonder that they wereenraged. The leaders and, if you will permit me to say so, you are to blame. You could haveguided the people properly, but you also believed Reuter and assumed that I must have indulgedin exaggeration. I do not want to bring anyone to book. I am sure that, when the truth becomesknown, they will be sorry for their conduct.Would you mind giving me this in writing? said Mr. Escombe. Because I shall have to cable toMr. Chamberlain to that effect. I do not want you to make any statement in haste. You may, if youlike, consult Mr. Laughton and your other friends, before you come to a final decision. I mayconfess, however, that, if you waive the right of bringing your assailants to book, you willconsiderable help me in restoring quiet, besides enhancing your own reputation.Thank you, said I. I need not consult anyone. I had made my decision in the matter before Icame to you. It is my conviction that I should not prosecute the assailants, and I am prepared thismoment to reduce my decision to writing.With this I gave him the necessary statement. Chapter 58 THE CALM AFTER THE STORMI had not yet left the police station, when, after two days, I was taken to see Mr.Escombe. Twoconstables were sent to protect me, though no such precaution was then needed.On the day of landing, as soon as the yellow flag was lowered, a representative of The NatalAdvertiser had come to interview me. He had asked me a number of questions, and in reply I hadbeen able to refute everyone of the charges that had been levelled against me. Thanks to SirPherozeshah Mehta, I had delivered only written speeches in India, and I had copies of them all,as well as of my other writings. I had given the interviewer all this literature and showed him thatin India I had said nothing which I had not already said in South Africa in stronger language. I hadalso shown him that I had had no hand in bringing the passengers of the Courland and Naderi toSouth Africa. Many of them were old residents, and most of them, far from wanting to stay inNatal, meant to go to the Transvaal. In those days the Transvaal offered better prospects thanNatal to those coming in search of wealth, and most Indians, therefore, preferred to go there. Thisinterview and my refusal to prosecute the assailants produced such a profound impression thatthe Europeans of Durban were ashamed of their conduct. The press declared me to be innocentand condemned the mob. Thus the lynching ultimately proved to be a blessing for me, that is, forthe cause. It enhanced the prestige of the Indian community in South Africa and made my workeasier. In three or four days I went to my house, and it was not long before I settled down again.The incident added also to my professional practice. But if it enhanced the prestige of thecommunity, it also fanned the flame of prejudice against it. As soon as it was proved that theIndian could put up a manly fight, he came to be regarded as a danger. Two bills were introducedin the Natal Legislative Assembly, one of them calculated to affect the Indian trader adversely,
  103. and the other to impose a stringent restriction on Indian immigration. Fortunately the fight for thefranchise had resulted in a decision to the effect that no enactment might be passed against theIndians as such, that is say, that the law should make no distinctions of colour or race. Thelanguage of the bills above mentioned made them applicable to all, but their object undoubtedlywas to impose further restrictions on the Indian residents of Natal. The bills considerablyincreased my public work and made the community more alive then ever to their sense of duty.They were translated into Indian languages and fully explained, so as to bring home to thecommunity their subtle implications. We appealed to the Colonial Secretary, but he refused tointerfere and the bills became law. Public work now began to absorb most of my time. Sjt.Mansukhlal Naazar, who, as I have said, was already in Durban, came to stay with me, and as hegave his time to public work, he lightened my burden to some extent. Sheth Adamji Miyakhanhad, in my absence, discharged his duty with great credit. He had increased the membership andadded about £1,000 to the coffers of the Natal Indian Congress. The awakening caused by thebills and the demonstration against the passengers I turned to good account by making an appealfor membership and funds, which now amounted to £5,000. My desire was to secure for theCongress a permanent fund, so that it might procure property of its own and then carry on itswork out of the rent of the property. This was my first experience of managing a public institution.I placed my proposal before my co- workers, and they welcomed it. The property that waspurchased was leased out and the rent was enough to meet the current expenses of theCongress. The property was vested in a strong body of trustees and is still there today, but it hasbecome the source of much internecine quarrelling with the result that the rent of the propertynow accumulates in the court. This sad situation developed after my departure from South Africa,but my idea of having permanent funds for public institutions underwent a change long before thisdifference arose. And now after considerable experience with the many public institutions which Ihave managed, it has become my firm conviction that it is not good to run public institutions onpermanent funds. A permanent fund carries in itself the seed of the moral fall of the institution. Apublic institution means an institution conducted with the approval, and from the funds, of thepublic. When such an institution ceases to have public support, it forfeits its right to exist.Institutions maintained on permanent funds are often found to ignore public opinion, and arefrequently responsible for acts contrary to it. In our country we experience this at every step.Some of the so-called religious trusts have ceased to render any accounts. The trustees havebecome the owners and are responsible to none. I have no doubt that the ideal is for publicinstitutions to live, like nature, from day to day. The institution that fails to win public support hasno right to exist as such. The subscriptions that an institution annually receives are a test of itspopularity and the honesty of its management; and I am of opinion that every institution shouldsubmit to that test. But let no one misunderstand me. My remarks do not apply to the bodieswhich cannot, by their very nature, be conducted without permanent buildings. What I mean tosay is that the current expenditure should be found from subscriptions voluntarily received fromyear to year. These views were confirmed during the days of the Satyagraha in South Africa. Thatmagnificent campaign extending over six years was carried on without permanent funds, thoughlakhs of rupees were necessary for it. I can recollect times when I did not know what wouldhappen the next day if no subscriptions came in. But I shall not anticipate future events. Thereader will find the opinion expressed above amply borne out in the coming narrative. Chapter 59 EDUCATION OF CHILDRENWhen I landed at Durban in January 1897, I had three children with me, my sisters son tenyears old, and my own sons nine and five years of age. Where was I to educate them ?
  104. I could have sent them to the schools for European children, but only as a matter of favour andexception. No other Indian children were allowed to attend them. For these there were schoolsestablished by Christian missions, but I was not prepared to send my children there, as I did notlike the education imparted in those schools. For one thing, the medium of instruction would beonly English, or perhaps incorrect Tamil or Hindi; this too could only have been arranged withdifficulty. I could not possibly put up with this and other disadvantages. In the meantime I wasmaking my own attempt to teach them. But that was at best irregular, and I could not get hold of asuitable Gujarati teacher.I was at my wits end. I advertised for an English teacher who should teach the children under mydirection. Some regular instruction was to be given them by this teacher, and for the rest theyshould be satisfied with what little I could give them irregularly. So I engaged an Englishgoverness on 7 pounds a month. This went on for some time, but not to my satisfaction. The boysacquired some knowledge of Gujarati through my conversation and intercourse with them, whichwas strictly in the mother-tounge. I was loath to send them back to India, for I believed even thenthat young children should not be separated from their parents. The education that childrennaturally imbibe in a well-ordered household is impossible to obtain in hostels. I therefore kept mychildren with me. I did send my nephew and elder son to be educated at residential schools inIndia for a few months, but I soon had to recall them. Later, the eldest son, long after he hadcome of age, broke away from me, and went to India to join a High School in Ahmedabad. I havean impression that the nephew was satisfied with what I could give him. Unfortunately he died inthe prime of youth after a brief illness. The other three of my sons have never been at a publicschool, though they did get some regular schooling in an improvised school which I started for thechildren of Satyagrahi parents in South Africa.These experiments were all inadequate. I could not devote to the children all the time I hadwanted to give them. My inability to give them enough attention and other unavoidable causesprevented me from providing them with the literary education I had desired, and all my sons havehad complaints to make against me in this matter. Whenever they come across an M.A. or a B.A.,or even a matriculate, they seem to feel the handicap of a want of school education.Nevertheless I am of opinion that, if I had insisted on their being educated somehow at publicschools, they would have been deprived of the training that can be had only at the school ofexperience, or from constant contact with the parents. I should never have been free, as I amtoday, from anxiety on their score, and the artificial education that they could have had in Englandor South Africa, torn from me, would never have taught them the simplicity and the spirit ofservice that they show in their lives today, while their artificial ways of living might have been aserious handicap in my public work. Therefore, though I have not been able to give them a literaryeducation either to their or to my satisfaction, I am not quite sure, as I look back on my pastyears, that I have not done my duty by them to the best of my capacity. Nor do I regret not havingsent them to public schools. I have always felt that the undesirable traits I see today in my eldestson are an echo of my own undisciplined and unformulated early life. I regard that time as aperiod of half-baked knowledge and indulgence. It coincided with the most impressionable yearsof my eldest son, and naturally he has refused to regard it as my time of indulgence andinexperience. He has on the contrary believed that that was the brightest period of my life, andthe changes, effected later, have been due to delusion miscalled enlightenment. And well hemight. Why should he not think that my earlier years represented a period of awakening, and thelater years of radical change, years of delusion and egotism ? Often have I been confronted withvarious posers from friends : What harm had there been, if I had given my boys an academicaleducation ? What right had I thus to clip their wings ? Why should I have come in the way of theirtaking degrees and choosing their own careers ?I do not think that there is much point in these questions. I have come in contact with numerousstudents. I have tried myself or through others to impose my educational fads on other childrentoo and have seen the results thereof. There are within my knowledge a number of young men
  105. today contemporaneous with my sons. I do not think that man to man they are any better that mysons, or that my sons have much to learn from them.But the ultimate result of my experiments is in the womb of the future. My object in discussing thissubject here is that a student of the history of civilization may have some measure of thedifference between disciplined home education and school education, and also the effectproduced on children through changes introduced by parents in their lives. The purpose of thischapter is also to show the lengths to which a votary of truth is driven by his experiments withtruth, as also to show the votary of liberty how many are the sacrifices demanded by that sterngoddess. Had I been without a sense of self-respect and satisfied of myself with having for mychildren the education that other children could not get, I should have deprived them of theobject-lesson in liberty and self-respect that I gave them at the cost of the literary training. Andwhere a choice has to be made between liberty and learning, who will not say that the former hasto be preferred a thousand times to the latter ?The youths whom I called out in 1920 from those citadels of slavery -- their schools and colleges -- and whom I advised that it was far better to remain unlettered and break stones for the sake ofliberty than to go in for a literary education in the chains of slaves will probably be able now totrace my advice to its source. Chapter 60 SPIRIT OF SERVICEMy profession progressed satisfactorily, but that was far from satisfying me. The Question offurther simplifying my life and of doing some concrete act of service to my fellowmen had beenconstantly agitating me, when a leper came to my door. I had not the heart to dismiss him with ameal. So I offered him shelter, dressed his wounds, and began to look after him. But I could notgo on like that indefinately. I could not afford, I lacked the will to keep him always with me. So Isent him to the Government Hospital for indentured labourers.But I was still ill at ease. I longed for some humanitarian work of a permanent nature. Dr. Boothwas the head of the St. Aidans Mission. He was a kind-hearted man and treated his patients free.Thanks to a Parsi Rustomjis charities, it was possible to open a small charitable hospital underDr. Booths charge. I felt strongly inclined to serve as a nurse in this hospital. The work ofdispensing medicines took from one to two hours daily, and I made up my mind to find time frommy office-work, so as to be able to fill the place of a compounder in the dispensary attached tothe hospital. Most of my professional work was chamber work, conveyancing and arbitration. I ofcourse used to have a few cases in the magistrates court, but most of them were of a non-controversial character, and Mr. Khan, who had followed me to South Africa and was then livingwith me, undertook to take them if I was absent. So I found time to serve in the small hospital.This work brought me some peace. It consisted in ascertaining the patients complaints, layingthe facts before the doctor and dispensing the prescriptions. It brought me in close touch withsuffering Indians, most of them indentured Tamil, Telegu or North Indian men.The experience stood me in good stead, when during the Boer War I offered my services fornursing the sick and wounded soldiers.The question of the rearing of children had been ever before me. I had two sons born in SouthAfrica, and my service in the hospital was useful in solving the question of their upbringing. Myindependent spirit was a constant source of trial. My wife and I had decided to have the best
  106. medical aid at the time of her delivery, but if the doctor and the nurse were to leave us in the lurchat the right moment, what was I to do? Then the nurse had to be an Indian. And the difficulty ofgetting a trained Indian nurse in South Africa can be easily imagined from the similar difficulty inIndia. So I studied the things necessary for safe labour. I read Dr. Tribhuvandas book, #Ma-neShikhaman# - Advice to a mother - and I nursed both my children according to the instructionsgiven in the book, tempered here and there by experience as I had gained elsewhere. Theservices of a nurse were utilized-not for more than two months each time-chiefly for helping mywife and not for taking care of the babies, which I did myself.The birth of the last child put me to the severest test. The travail came on suddenly. The doctorwas not immediately available, and some time was lost in fetching the midwife. Even if she hadbeen on the spot, she could not have helped delivery. I had to see through the safe delivery of thebaby. My careful study of the subject in Dr. Tribhuvandas work was of inestimable help. I was notnervous.I am convinced that for the proper upbringing of children the parents ought to have a generalknowledge of the care and nursing of babies. At every step I have seen the advantages of mycareful study of the subject. My children would not have enjoyed the general health that they dotoday, had I not studied the subject and turned my knowledge to account. We labour under a sortof superstition that a child has nothing to learn during the first five years of its life. On the contrarythe fact is that the child never learns in after life what it does in its first five years. The educationof the child begins with conception. The physical and mental states of the parents at the momentof conception are reproduced in the baby. Then during the period of pregnancy it continues to beaffected by the mothers moods, desires and temperament, as also by her ways of life. After birththe child imitates the parents, and for a considerable number of years entirely depends on themfor its growth.The couple who realize these things will never have sexual union for the fulfilment of their lust,but only when they desire issue. I think it is the height of ignorance to believe that the sexual actis an independent function necessary like sleeping or eating. The world depends for its existenceon the act of generation, and as the world is the play-ground of God and a reflection of His glory,the act of generation should be controlled for the ordered growth of the world. He who realizesthis will control his lust at any cost, equip himself with the knowledge necessary for the physical,mental and spiritual well-being of his progeny, and give the benefit of that knowledge to posterity. Chapter 61 BRAHMACHARYA -- IWe now reach the stage in this story when I began seriously to think of taking thebrahmacharya vow. I had been wedded to a monogamous ideal ever since my marriage,faithfulness to my wife being part of the love of truth. But it was in South Africa that I came torealize the importance of observing brahmacharya even with respect to my wife. I cannotdefinitely say what circumstance or what book it was, that set my thoughts in that direction, but Ihave a recollection that the predominant factor was the influence of Raychandbhai, of whom Ihave already written, I can still recall a conversation that I had with him. On one occasion I spoketo him in high praise of Mrs. Gladstones devotion to her husband. I had read some where thatMrs. Gladstone insisted on preparing tea for Mr. Gladstone even in the House of Commons, andthat this had become a rule in the life of this illustrious couple, whose actions were governed by
  107. regularity. I spoke of this to the poet, and incidentally eulogized conjugal love.Which of the twodo you prize more, asked Raychandbhai,the love of Mrs. Gladstone for her husband as his wife,or her devoted service irrespective of her relation to Mr. Gladstone? Supposing she had been hissister, or his devoted servant, and ministered to him with the same attention, what would youhave said? Do we not have instances of such devoted sisters or servants? Supposing you hadfound the same loving devotion in a male servant, would you have been pleased in the same wayas in Mrs. Gladstones case ? Just examine the view-point suggested by me.Raychandbhai was himself married. I have an impression that at the moment his words soundedharsh, but they gripped me irresistibly. The devotion of a servant was, I felt, a thousand timesmore praiseworthy than that of a wife to her husband. There was nothing surprising in the wifesdevotion to her husband, as there was an indissoluble bond between them. The devotion wasperfectly natural. But it required. a special effort to cultivate equal devotion between master andservant. The poets point of view began gradually to grow upon me. What then, I asked myself,should be my relation with my wife ? Did my faithfulness consist in making my wife the instrumentof my lust ? So long as I was the slave of lust, my faithfulness was worth nothing. To be fair to mywife, I must say that she was never the temptress. It was therefore the easiest thing for me totake the vow of brahmacharya , if only I willed it. It was my weak will or lustful attachment thatwas the obstacle. Even after my conscience had been roused in the matter, I failed twice. I failedbecause the motive that actuated the effort was none the highest. My main object was to escapehaving more children. Whilst in England I had read something about contraceptives. I havealready referred to Dr. Allinsons birth control propaganda in the chapter on Vegetarianism. If ithad some temporary effect on me,Mr. Hills opposition to those methods and his advocacy ofinternal efforts as opposed to outward means, in a word, of self-control, had a far greater effect,which in due time came to be abiding. Seeing, therefore, that I did not desire more children Ibegan to strive after self-control. There was endless difficulty in the task. We began to sleep inseparate beds. I decided to retire to bed only after the days work had left me completelyexhausted. All these efforts did not seem to bear much fruit, but when I look back upon the past, Ifeel that the final resolution was the cumulative effect of those unsuccessful strivings.The final resolution could only be made as late as 1906. Satyagraha had not then been started. Ihad not the least notion of its coming. I was practising in Johannesburg at the time of the ZuluRebellion in Natal, which came soon after the Boer War. I felt that I must offer my services to theNatal Government on that occasion. The offer was accepted, as we shall see in another chapter.But the work set me furiously thinking in the direction of self-control, and according to my wontIdiscussed my thoughts with my co-workers, It became my conviction that procreation and theconsequent care of children were inconsistent with public serviice. I had to break up myhousehold at Johannesburg to be able to serve during the Rebellion. Within one month ofoffering my services, I had to give up the house I had so carefully furnished. I took my wife andchildren to Phoenix and led the Indian ambulance corps attached to the Natal forces. During thedifficult marches that had then to be performed, the idea flashed upon me that if I wanted todevote myself to the service of the community in this manner, I must relinquish the desire forchildren and wealth and live the life of a vanaprastha - of one retired from household cares.TheRebellion did not occupy me for more than six weeks, but this brief period proved to be avery important epoch in my life. The importance of vows grew upon me more clearly than everbefore. I realized that a vow, far from closing the door to real freedom, opened it. Up to this time Ihad not met with success because the will had been lacking, because I had had no faith inmyself, no faith in the grace of God, and therefore, my mind had been tossed on the boisteroussea of doubt. I realized that in refusing to take a vow man was drawn into temptation, and that tobe bound by a vow was like a passage from libertinism to a real monogamous marriage. I believein effort, I do not want to bind myself with vows, is the mentality of weakness and betrays asubtle desire for the thing to be avoided. Or where can be the difficulty in making a final decision? I vow to flee from the serpent which I know will bite me, I do not simply make an effort to fleefrom him. I know that mere effort may mean certain death. Mere effort means ignorance of thecertain fact that the serpent is bound to kill me. The fact, therefore, that I could rest content with
  108. an effort only, means that I have not yet clearly realized the necessity of definite action.Butsupposing my views are changed in the future, how can I bind myself by a vow ? Such a doubtoften deters us. But that doubt also betrays a lack of clear perception that a particular thing mustbe renounced. That is why Nishkulanand has sung :Renunciatfon without aversion is not lasting.Where therefore the desire is gone, a vow of renunciation is the natural and inevitable fruit. Chapter 62 BRAHM ACHARYA - IIAfter full discussion and mature deliberation I took the vow in 1906. I had not shared mythoughts with my wife until then, but only consulted her at the time of taking the vow. She had noobjection. But I had great difficulty in making the final resolve. I had not the necessary strength.How was I to control my passions ? The elimination of carnal relationship with ones wife seemedthen a strange thing. But I launched forth with faith in the sustaining power of God. As I look backupon the twenty years of the vow, I am filled with pleasure and wonderment. The more or lesssuccessful practice of self-control had been going on since 1901. But the freedom and joy thatcame to me after taking the vow had never been experienced before 1906. Before the vow I hadbeen open to being overcome by temptation at any moment. Now the vow was a sure shieldagainst temptation. The great potentiality of brahmacharya daily became more an more patent tome. The vow was taken when I was in Phoenix. As soon as I was free from ambulance work, Iwent to Phoenix, whence I had to return to Johannesburg. In about a month of my returning there,the foundation of Satyagraha was laid. As though unknown to me, the brahmacharya vow hadbeen preparing me for it. Satyagraha had not been a preconceived plan. It came onspontaneously, without my having willed it. But I could see that all my previous steps had led upto that goal. I had cut down my heavy household expenses at Johannesburg and gone to Phoenixto take, as it were, the brahmacharya vow.The knowledge that a perfect observance of brahmacharya means realization of brahman, I didnot owe to a study of the Shastras. It slowly grew upon me with experience. The shastric texts onthe subject I read only later in life. Every day of the vow has taken me nearer the knowledge thatin brahmacharya lies the protection of the body, the mind and the soul. For #brahmacharya# wasnow no process of hard penance, it was a matter of consolation and joy. Every day revealed afresh beauty in it.But if it was a matter of ever-increasing joy, let no one believe that it was an easy thing for me.Even when I am past fifty-six years, I realize how hard a thing it is. Every day I realize more andmore that it is like walking on the swords edge, and I see every moment the necessity for eternalvigilance.Control of the palate is the first essential in the observance of the vow. I found that completecontrol of the palate made the observance very easy, and so I now persued my dieteticexperiments not merely from the vegetarians but also from the #brahmacharis# point of view. Asthe result of these experiments I saw that the #brahmacharis# food should be limited, simple,spiceless, and, if possible, uncooked.
  109. Six years of experiment have showed me that the brahmacharis ideal food is fresh fruit and nuts.The immunity from passion that I enjoyed when I lived on this food was unknown to me after Ichanged that diet. Brahmacharya needed no effort on my part in South Africa when I lived onfruits and nuts alone. It has been a matter of very great effort ever since I began to take milk. HowI had to go back to milk from a fruit diet will be considered in its proper place. It is enough toobserve here that I have not the least doubt that milk diet makes the brahmacharya vow difficultto observe. Let no one deduce from this that all brahmacharis must give up milk. The effect onbrahmacharya of different kinds of food can be determined only after numerous experiments. Ihave yet to find a fruit substitute for milk which is an equally good muscle-builder and easilydigestible. The doctors, vaidyas and hakims have alike failed to enlighten me. Therefore, though Iknow milk to be partly a stimulant, I cannot, for the time being, advise anyone to give it up.As an external aid to brahmacharya, fasting is as necessary as selection and restriction in diet.So overpowering are the senses that they can be kept under control only when they arecompletely hedged in on all sides, from above and from beneath. It is common knowledge thatthey are powerless without food, and so fasting undertaken with a view to control of the senses is,I have no doubt, very helpful. With some, fasting is of no avail, because assuming thatmechanical fasting alone will make them immune, they keep their bodies without food, but feasttheir minds upon all sorts of delicacies, thinking all the while what they will eat and what they willdrink after the fast terminates. Such fasting helps them in controlling neither palate nor lust.Fasting is useful, when mind co-operates with starving body, that is to say, when it cultivates adistaste for the objects that are denied to the body. Mind is at the root of all sensuality. Fastingtherefore, has a limited use, for a fasting man may continue to be swayed by passion. But it maybe said that extinction of the sexual passion is as a rule impossible without fasting, which may besaid to be indispensable for the observance of #brahmacharya#. Many aspirants after#brahmacharya# fail, because in the use of their other senses they want to carry on like thosewho are not #brahmacharis#. Their effort is, therefore, identical with the effort to experience thebracing cold of winter in the scorching summer months. There should be a clear line between thelife of a #brahmachari# and of one who is not. The resemblance that there is between the two isonly apparent. The distinction ought to be clear as daylight. Both use their eyesight, but whereasthe #brahmachari# uses it to see the glories of God, the other uses it to see the frivolity aroundhim. Both use their ears, but whereas the one hears nothing but praises of God, the other feastshis ears upon ribaldry. Both often keep late hours, but whereas the one devotes them to prayer,the other fritters them away in wild and wasteful mirth. Both feed the inner man, but the one onlyto keep the temple of God in good repair, while the other gorges himself and makes the sacredvessel a stinking gutter. Thus both live as the poles apart, and the distance between them willgrow and not diminish with the passage of time.Brahmacharya means control of the senses in thought, word and deed. Every day I have beenrealizing more and more the necessity for restraints of the kind I have detailed above. There is nolimit to the possibilities of renunciation even as there is none to those of #brahmacharya#. Such#brahmacharya# is impossible of attainment by limited effort. For many it must remain only as anideal. An aspirant after #brahmacharya# will always be conscious of his shortcomings, will seekout the passions lingering in the innermost recesses of his heart and will incessantly strive to getrid of them. So long as thought is not under complete control of the will, #brahmacharya# in itsfulness is absent. Involuntary thought is an affection of the mind, and curbing of thought,therefore, means curbing of the mind which is even more difficult to curb than the wind.Nevertheless the existence of God within makes even control of the mind possible. Let no onethink that it is impossible because it is difficult. It is the highest goal, and it is no wonder that thehighest effort should be necessary to attain it.But it was after coming to India that I realized that such #brahmacharya# was impossible to attainby mere human effort. Until then I had been labouring under the delusion that fruit diet alonewould enable me to eradicate all passions, and I had flattered myself with the belief that I hadnothing more to do.
  110. But I must not anticipate the chapter of my struggle. Meanwhile let me make it clear that thosewho desire to observe brahmacharya with a view to realizing God need not despair, providedtheir faith in God is equal to their confidence in their own effort.The sense-objects turn away from an abstemious soul, leaving the relish behind. The relish alsodisappears with the realization of the Highest. Therefore His name and His grace are the lastresources of the aspirant after moksha. This truth came to me only after my return to India. Chapter 63 SIMPLE LIFEI had started on a life of ease and comfort, but the experiment was short-lived. Although I hadfurnished the house with care, yet it failed to have any hold on me. So no sooner had I launchedforth on that life, than I began to cut down expenses. The washermans bill was heavy, and as hewas besides by no means noted for his punctuality, even two or three dozen shirts and collarsproved insufficient for me. Collars had to be changed daily and shirts, if not daily, at least everyalternate day. This meant a double expense, which appeared to me unnecessary. So I equippedmyself with a washing outfit to save it. I bought a book on washing, studied the art and taught italso to my wife. This no doubt added to my work, but its novelty made it a pleasure.I shall never forget the first collar that I washed myself. I had used more starch than necessary,the iron had not been made hot enough, and for fear of burning the collar I had not pressed itsufficiently. The result was that, though the collar was fairly stiff, the superfluous starchcontinually dropped off it. I went to court with the collar on, thus inviting the ridicule of brotherbarristers, but even in those days I could be impervious to ridicule.Well, said I, this is my first experiment at washing my own collars and hence the loose starch.But it does not trouble me, and then there is the advantage of providing you with so much fun.But surely there is no lack of laundries here? asked a friend.The laundry bill is very heavy, said I. The charge for washing a collar is almost as much as itsprice, and even then there is the eternal dependence on the washerman. I prefer by far to washmy things myself.But I could not make my friends appreciate the beauty of self-help. In course of time I became anexpertwasherman so far as my own work went, and my washing was by no means inferior to laundrywashing. My collars were no less stiff or shiny than others.When Gokhale came to South Africa, he had with him a scarf which was a gift from MahadeoGovind Ranade. He treasured the memento with the utmost care and used it only on specialoccasions. One such occasion was the banquet given in his honour by the Johannesburg Indians.
  111. The scarf was creased and needed ironing. It was not possible to send it to the laundry and get itback in time. I offered to try my art.I can trust to your capacity as a lawyer, but not as a washerman, said Gokhale; What if youshould soil it? Do you know what it means to me ? With this he narrated, with much joy, the story of the gift. I still insisted, guaranteed good work,got his permission to iron it, and won his certificate. After that I did not mind if the rest of the worldrefused me its certificate.In the same way, as I freed myself from slavery to the washerman, I threw off dependence on thebarber. All people who go to England learn there at least the art of shaving, but none, to myknowledge, learn to cut their own hair. I had to learn that too. I once went to an English hair-cutterin Pretoria. He contemptuously refused to cut my hair. I certainly felt hurt, but immediatelypurchased a pair of clippers and cut my hair before the mirror. I succeeded more or less in cuttingthe front hair, but I spoiled the back. The friends in the court shook with laughter.Whats wrong with your hair, Gandhi? Rats have been at it ? No. The white barber would notcondescend to touch my black hair, said I, so I preferred to cut it myself, no matter how badly.The reply did not surprise the friends.The barber was not at fault in having refused to cut my hair. There was every chance of his losinghis custom, if he should serve black men. We do not allow our barbers to serve our untouchablebrethren. I got the reward of this in South Africa, not once, but many times, and the convictionthat it was the punishment for our own sins saved me from becoming angry.The extreme forms in which my passion for self-help and simplicity ultimately expressed itself willbe described in their proper place. The seed had been long sown. It only needed watering to takeroot, to flower and to fructify, and the watering came in due course. Chapter 64 THE BOER WARI must skip many other experiences of the period between 1897 and 1899 and come straight tothe Boer War.When the war was declared, my personal sympathies were all with the Boers, but I believed thenthat I had yet no right, in such cases, to enforce my individual convictions. I have minutely dealtwith the inner struggle regarding this in my history of the Satyagraha in South Africa, and I mustnot repeat the argument here. I invite the curious to turn to those pages. Suffice it to say that myloyalty to the British rule drove me to participation with the British in that war. I felt that, if Idemanded rights as a British citizen, it was also my duty, as such, to participate in the defence ofthe British Empire. I held then that India could achieve her complete emancipation only within andthrough the British Empire. So I collected to gather as many comrades as possible, and with verygreat difficulty got their services accepted as an ambulance corps.
  112. The average Englishman believed that the Indian was a coward, incapable of taking risks orlooking beyond his immediate self-interest. Many English friends, therefore, threw cold water onmy plan. But Dr. Booth supported it whole-heartedly. He trained us in ambulance work. Wesecured medical certificates of fitness for service. Mr. Laughton and the late Mr. Escombeenthusiastically supported the plan, and we applied at last for service at the front. TheGovernment thankfully acknowledged our application, but said that our services were not thenneeded.I would not rest satisfied, however with this refusal. Through the introduction of Dr. Booth, I calledon the Bishop of Natal. There were many Christian Indians in our corps. The Bishop wasdelighted with my proposal and promised to help us in getting our services accepted. Time toowas working with us. The Beer had shown more pluck, determination and bravery than had beenexpected ; and our services were ultimately needed. Our corps was 1,100 strong, with nearly 40leaders, About three hundred were free Indians, and the rest indentured. Dr. Booth was also withus, The corps acquitted itself well. Though our work was to be outside the firing line, and thoughwe had the protection of the Red Cross, we were asked at a critical moment to serve within thefiring line. The reservation had not been of our seeking. The authorities did not want us to bewithin the range of fire. The situation, however, was changed after the repulse at Spion Kop, andGeneral Buller sent the message that, though we were not bound to take the risk, Governmentwould be thankful if we would do so and fetch the wounded from the field. We had no hesitation,and so the action at Spion Kop found us working within the firing line. During these days we hadto march from twenty to twenty-five miles a day, bearing the wounded on stretchers. Amongst thewounded we had the honour of carrying soldiers like General Woodgate.The corps was disbanded after six weeks service. After the reverses at Spion Kop andVaalkranz, the British Commander-in-Chief abandoned the attempt to relieve Ladysmith andother places by summary procedure, and decided to proceed slowly, awaiting reinforcementsfrom England and India.Our humble work was at the moment much applauded, and the Indians prestige was enhanced.The newspapers published laudatory rhymes with the refrain, We are sons of Empire after all.General Buller mentioned with appreciation the work of the corps in his despatch, and the leaderswere awarded the War Medal.The Indian community became better organized. I got into closer touch with the indenturedIndians. There came a greater awakening amongst them, and the feeling that Hindus,Musalmans, Christians, Tamilians, Gujaratis and Sindhis were all Indians and children of thesame motherland took deep root amongst them. Everyone believed that the Indians grievanceswere now sure to be redressed. At the moment the white mans attitude seemed to be distinctlychanged. The relations formed with the whites during the war were of the sweetest. We had comein contact with thousands of tommies. They were friendly with us and thankful for being there toserve them. I cannot forbear from recording a sweet reminiscence of how human nature showsitself at its best in moments of trial. We were marching towards Chievely Camp where LieutenantRoberts, the son of Lord Roberts, had received a mortal wound. Our corps had the honour ofcarrying the body from the field. It was a sultry day -- the day of our march. Everyone wasthirsting for water. There was a tiny brook on the way where we could slake our thirst. But whowas to drink first ? We had proposed to come in after the tommies had finished. But they wouldnot begin first and urged us to do so, and for a while a pleasant competition went on for givingprecedence to one another.
  113. Chapter 65 SANITARY REFORM AND FAMINE RELIEFIt has always been impossible for me to reconcile myself to any one member of the bady politicremaining out of use. I have always been loath to hide or connive at the. weak points of thecommunity or to press for its rights without having purged it of its blemishes. Therefore, eversince my settlement in Natal, I had been endeavouring to clear the community of a charge thathad been levelled against it, not without a certain amount of truth. The charge had often beenmade that the Indian was slovenly in his habits and did not keep his house and surroundingsclean. The principal men of the community had, therefore, already begun to put their houses inorder, but house-to-house inspection was undertaken only when plague was reported to beimminent in Durban. This was done after consulting, and gaining the approval of, the city fathers,who had desired our co-operation. Our co-operation made work easier for them and at the sametime lessened our hardships. For whenever there is an outbreak of epidemics, the executive, as ageneral rule, get impatient, take excessive measures and behave to such as may have incurredtheir displeasure with a heavy hand. The community saved itself from this oppression byvoluntarily taking sanitary measures.But I had some bitter experiences. I saw that I could not so easily count on the help of thecommunity in getting it to do its own duty, as I could in claiming for it rights. At some places I metwith insults, at others with polite indifference. It was too much for people to bestir themselves tokeep their surroundings clean. To expect them to find money for the work was out of the question.These experiences taught me, better than ever before, that without infinite patience it wasimpossible to get the people to do any work. It is the reformer who is anxious for the reform, andnot society, from which he should expect nothing better than opposition, abhorrence and evenmortal persecution. Why may not society regard as retrogression what the reformer holds dear aslife itself ?Nevertheless the result of this agitation was that the Indian community learnt to recognize moreor less the necessity for keeping their houses and environments clean. I gained the esteem of theauthorities. They saw that, though I had made it my business to ventilate grievances and pressfor rights, I was no less keen and insistent upon self-purification.There was one thing, however, which still remained to be done, namely, the awakening in theIndian settler of a sense of duty to the motherland. India was poor, the Indian settler went toSouth Africa in search of wealth, and he was bound to contribute part of his earnings for thebenefit of his countrymen in the hour of their adversity. This the settler did during the terriblefamines of 1897 and 1899. They contributed handsomely for famine relief, and more so in 1899than in 1897. We had appealed to Englishmen also for funds, and they had responded well. Eventhe indentured Indians gave their share to the contribution, and the system inaugurated at thetime of these famines has been continued ever since, and we know that Indians in South Africanever fail to send handsome contributions to India in times of national calamity.Thus service of the Indians in South Africa ever revealed to me new implications of truth at everystage. Truth is like a vast tree, which yields more and more fruit, the more you nurture it. Thedeeper the search in the mine of truth the richer the discovery of the gems buried there, in theshape of openings for an ever greater variety of service.
  114. Chapter 66 RETURN TO INDIAOn my relief from war-duty I felt that my work was no longer in South Africa but in India. Notthat there was nothing to be done in South Africa, but I was afraid that my main business mightbecome merely money-making. Friends at home were also pressing me to return, and I felt that Ishould be be of more service in India. And for the work in South Africa, there were, of course,Messrs Khan and Mansukhlal Naazar. So I requested my coworkers to relieve me. After verygreat difficulty my request was conditionally accepted, the condition being that I should be readyto go back to South Africa if, within a year, the community should need me. I thought it was adifficult condition but the love that bound me to the community made me accept it. The Lord hasbound me With the cotton-thread of love, I am His bondslave, sang Mirabai. And for me, too, thecotton-thread of love that bound me to the community was too strong to break. The voice of thepeople is the voice of God, and here the voice of friends was too real to be rejected. I acceptedthe condition and got their permission to go.At this time I was intimately connected only with Natal. The Natal Indians bathed me with thenectar of love. Farewell meetings were arranged at every place, and costly gifts were presentedto me.Gifts had been bestowed on me before when I returned to India in 1899, but this time the farewellwas overwhelming. The gifts of course included things in gold and silver, but there were articlesof costly diamond as well.What right had I to accept all these gifts ? Accepting them, how could I persuade myself that Iwas serving the community without remuneration ? A11 the gifts, excepting a few from my clients,were purely for my service to the community, and I could make no difference between my clientsand co-workers; for the clients also helped me in my public work.One of the gifts was a gold necklace/worth fifty guineas, meant for my wife. But even that gift wasgiven because of my public work, and so it could not be separated from the rest.The evening I was presented with the bulk of these things I had a sleepless night. I walked upand down my room deeply agitated, but could find no solution. It was difficult for me to forego giftsworth hundreds, it was more difficult to keep them.And even if I could keep them , what about my children ? What about my wife? They were beingtrained to a life of service and to an understanding that service was its own reward.I had no costly ornaments in the house. We had been fast simplifying our life How then could weafford to have gold watches? How could we afford to wear gold chains and diamond rings? Eventhen I was exhorting people to conquer the infatuation for jewellery. What was I now to do withthe jewellery that had come upon me ?I decided that I could not keep these things. I drafted a letter, creating a trust of them in favour ofthe community and appointing Parsi Rustomji and others trustees. In the morning I held aconsultation with my wife and children and finally go rid of the heavy incubus.I knew that I should have some difficulty in persuading my wife, and I was sure that I should havenone so far as the children were concerned. So I decided to constitute them my attorneys.
  115. The children readily agreed to my proposal. We do not need these costly presents, we mustreturn them to the community, and should we ever need them, we could easily purchase them,they said.I was delighted. Then you will plead with mother wont you ? I asked them.Certainly, said they. That is our business. She did not need to wear the ornaments. She wouldwant to keep them for us, and if we dont want them, why should she not agree to part with them?But it was easier said than done.You may not need them, said my wife. Your children may not need them. Cajoled they willdance to your tune. I can understand your not permitting me to wear them. But what about mydaughters-in-law? They will be sure to need them. And who knows what will happen tomorrow ? Iwould be the last person to part with gifts so lovingly given.And thus the torrent of argument went on, reinforced, in the end, by tears. But the children wereadamant. And I was unmoved.I mildly put in: The children have yet to get married. We do not want to see them married young.When they are grown up, they can take care of themselves. And surely we shall not have, for oursons, brides who are fond of ornaments. And if after all, we need to provide them with ornaments,I am there. You will ask me then. Ask you ? I know you by this time. You deprived me of myornaments, you would not leave me in peace with them. Fancy you offering to get ornaments forthe daughters-in-law ! You who are trying to make sadhus of my boys from today ! No, theornaments will not be returned. And pray what right have you to my necklace ? But, I rejoined, is the necklace given you for your service or for my service ?I agree. But service rendered by you is as good as rendered by me. I have toiled and moiled foryou day and night. Is that no service ? You forced all and sundry on me, making me weep bittertears, and I slaved for them !These were pointed thrusts, and some of them went home. But I was determined to return theornaments. I somehow succeeded in extorting a consent from her. The gifts received in 1896 and1901 were all returned. A trust-deed was prepared, and they were deposited with a bank, to beused for the service of the community, according to my wishes or to those of the trustees.Often, when I was in need of funds for public purposes, and felt that I must draw upon the trust, Ihave been able to raise the requisite amount, leaving the trust money intact. The fund is stillthere, being operated upon in times of need, and it has regularly accumulated.I have never since regretted the step, and as the years have gone by, my wife has also seen itswisdom. It has saved us from many temptations.I am definitely of opinion that a public worker should accept no costly gifts.
  116. Chapter 67 IN INDIA AGAINSo I sailed for home. Mauritius was one of the ports of call, and as the boat made a long haltthere, I went ashore and acquainted myself fairly well with the local conditions. For one night Iwas the guest of Sir Charles Bruce, the Governor of the Colony.After reaching India I spent some time in going about the country. It was the year 1901 when theCongress met at Calcutta under the presidentship of Mr. (later Sir) Dinshaw Wacha. And I ofcourse attended it. It was my first experience of the Congress. From Bombay I travelled in thesame train as Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, as I had to speak to him about conditions in South Africa. Iknew the kingly style in which he lived. He had engaged a special saloon for himself, and I hadorders to take my opportunity of speaking to him by travelling in his saloon for one stage. I,therefore, went to the saloon and reported myself at the appointed station. With him were Mr.Wacha, and Mr. (now Sir) Chimanlal Setalvad. They were discussing politics. As soon as SirPherozeshah saw me, he said, Gandhi, it seems nothing can be done for you. Of course we willpass the resolution you want. But what rights have we in our own country? I believe that, so longas we have no power in our own land, you cannot fare better in the Colonies. I was taken aback.Mr. Setalvad seemed to concur in the view; Mr· Wacha cast a pathetic look at me. I tried to pleadwith Sir Pherozeshah, but it was out of the question for one like me to prevail upon theuncrowned king of Bombay. I contented myself with the fact that I should be allowed to move myresolution. You will of course show me the resolution, said Mr. Wacha, to cheer me up. I thankedhim and left them at the next stop. So we reached Calcutta. The President was taken to his campwith great eclat by the Reception Committee. I asked a volunteer where I was to go. He took meto the Ripen College, where a number of delegates were being put up. Fortune favoured me·Lokamanya was put up in the same block as I. I have a recollection that he came a day later. Andas was natural, Lokamanya would never be without his darbar. Were I a painter, I could paint himas I saw him seated on his bed -- so vivid is the whole scene in my memory. Of the numberlesspeople that called on him, I can recollect today only one, namely the late Babu Motilal Ghose,editor of the Amrita Bazar Patrika. Their loud laughter and their talks about the wrong-doings ofthe ruling race cannot be forgotten· But I propose to examine in some detail the appointments inthis camp. The volunteers were clashing against one another. You asked one of them to dosomething· He delegated it to another, and he in his turn to a third, and so on; and as for thedelegates, they were neither here nor there. I made friends with a few volunteers. I told themsome things about South Africa, and they felt somewhat ashamed. I tried to bring home to themthe secret of service. They seemed to understand, but service is no mushroom growth. Itpresupposes the will first, and then experience· There was no lack of will on the part of thosegood simple-hearted young men, but their experience was nil. The Congress would meet threedays every year and then go to sleep. What training could one have out of a three days showonce a year ? And the delegates were of a piece with the volunteers. They had no better orlonger training. They would do nothing themselves. Volunteer, do this, Volunteer, do that, weretheir constant orders. Even here I was face to face with untouchability in a fair, measure. TheTamilian kitchen was far away from the rest. To the Tamil delegates even the sight of others,whilst they were dining, meant pollution. So a special kitchen had to be made for them in theCollege compound, walled in by wicker-work. It was full of smoke which choked you. It was akitchen, dining room, washroom, all in one -- a close safe with no outlet. To me this looked like atravesty of Varnadharma. If, I said to myself, there was such untouchability between thedelegates of the Congress, one could well imagine the extent to which it existed amongst theirconstituents. I heaved a sigh at the thought. There was no limit to insanitation. Pools of waterwere everywhere. There were only a few latrines, and the recollection of their stink still oppressesme. I pointed it out to the volunteers. They said pointblank: That is not our work, it is thescavengers work. I asked for a broom. The man stared at me in wonder. I procured one and
  117. cleaned the latrine. But that was for myself. The rush was so great, and the latrines were so few,that they needed frequent cleaning; but that was more than I could do. So I had to content myselfwith simply ministering to myself. And the others did not seem to mind the stench and the dirt. Butthat was not all. Some of the delegates did not scruple to use the verandahs outside their roomsfor calls of nature at night. In the morning I pointed out the spots to the volunteers. No one wasready to undertake the cleaning, and I found no one to share the honour with me of doing it.Conditions have since considerably improved, but even today thoughtless delegates are notwanting who disfigure the Congress camp by committing nuisance wherever they choose, and allthe volunteers are not always ready to clean up after them. I saw that, if the Congress sessionwere to be prolonged, conditions would be quite favourable for the outbreak of an epidemic. Chapter 68 CLERK AND BEARERT here were yet two days for the Congress session to begin. I had made up my mind to offer myservices to the Congress office in order to gain some experience. So as soon as I had finishedthe daily ablutions on arrival at Calcutta, I proceeded to the Congress office.Babu Bhupendranath Basu and Sjt. Ghosal were the secretaries. I went to Bhupenbabu andoffered my services. He looked at me, and said: I have no work, but possibly Ghosalbabu mighthave something to give you. Please go to him.So I went to him. He scanned me and said with a smile: I can give you only clerical work. Will youdo it?Certainly, said I. I am here to do anything that is not beyond my capacity.That is the right spirit, young man, he said. Addressing the volunteers who surrounded him, headded, Do you hear what this young man says?Then turning to me he proceeded: Well then, here is a heap of letters for disposal. Take thatchair and begin. As you see, hundreds of people come to see me. What am I to do? Am I to meetthem, or am I to answer these busybodies inundating me with letters? I have no clerks to whom Ican entrust this work. Most of these letters have nothing in them, but you will please look themthrough. Acknowledge those that are worth it, and refer to me those that need a consideredreply.I was delighted at the confidence reposed in me.Sjt. Ghosal did not know me when he gave me the work. Only later did he enquire about mycredentials.I found my work very easy - the disposal of that heap of correspondence. I had done with it in notime, and Sjt. Ghosal was very glad. He was talkative. He would talk away for hours together.When he learnt something from me about my history, he felt rather sorry to have given me clericalwork. But I reassured him: Please dont worry. What am I before you? You have grown gray inthe service of the Congress, and are as an elder to me. I am but an inexperienced youth. You
  118. have put me under a debt of obligation by entrusting me with this work. For I want to do Congresswork, and you have given me the rare opportunity of understanding the details.To tell you the truth, said Sjt. Ghosal, that is the proper spirit. But young men of today do notrealize it. Of course I have known the Congress since its birth. In fact I may claim a certain sharewith Mr. Hume in bringing the Congress into being.And thus we became good friends. He insisted on my having lunch with him.Sjt. Ghosal used to get his shirt buttoned by his bearer. I volunteered to do the bearers duty, andI loved to do it, as my regard for elders was always great. When he came to know this, he did notmind my doing little acts of personal service for him. In fact he was delighted. Asking me to buttonhis shirt, he would say, You see, now, the Congress secretary has no time even to button hisshirt. He has always some work to do. Sjt. Ghosals naivete amused me, but did not create anydislike in me for service of that nature. The benefit I received from this service in incalculable.In a few days I came to know the working of the Congress. I met most of the leaders. I observedthe movements of stalwarts like Gokhale and Surendranath. I also noticed the huge waste of timethere. I observed too, with sorrow even then, the prominent place that the English languageoccupied in our affairs. There was little regard for economy of energy. More than one did the workof one, and many an important thing was no ones business at all.Critical as my mind was in observing these things, there was enough charity in me, and so Ialways thought that it might, after all, be impossible to do better in the circumstances, and thatsaved me from undervaluing any work. Chapter 69 IN THE CONGRESSIn the Congress at last. The immense pavilion and the volunteers in stately array, as also theelders seated on the dais, overwhelmed me. I wondered where I should be in that vastassemblage.The presidential address was a book by itself. To read it from cover to cover was out of thequestion. Only a few passages were therefore read.After this came the election of the Subjects Committee. Gokhale took me to the Committeemeetings.Sir Pherozeshah had of course agreed to admit my resolution, but I was wondering who wouldput it before the Subjects Committee, and when. For there were lengthy speeches to everyresolution, all in English to boot, and every resolution had some well-known leader to back it.Mine was but a feeble pipe amongst those veteran drums, and as the night was closing in, myheart beat fast. The resolutions coming at the fag- end were, so far as I can recollect, rushedthrough at lighting speed. Everyone was hurrying to go. It was 11 oclock. I had not the courage tospeak. I had already met Gokhale, who had looked at my resolution. So I drew near his chair andwhispered to him: Please do something for me. He said: Your resolution is not out of my mind.
  119. You see the way they are rushing through the resolutions. But I will not allow yours to be passedover.So we have done? said Sir Pherozeshah Mehta.No, no, there is still the resolution on South Africa. Mr. Gandhi has been waiting long, cried outGokhale.Have you seen the resolution? asked Sir Pherozeshah.Of course.Do you like it?It is quite good.Well then, let us have it, Gandhi.I read it trembling.Gokhale supported it.Unanimously passed, cried out everyone.You will have five minutes to speak to it Gandhi, said Mr. Wacha.The procedure was far from pleasing to me. No one had troubled to understand the resolution,everyone was in a hurry to go and, because Gokhale had seen the resolution, it was not thoughtnecessary for the rest to see it or understand it!The morning found me worrying about my speech. What was I to say in five minutes? I hadprepared myself fairly well but the words would not come to me. I had decided not to read myspeech but to speak ex tempore. But the facility for speaking that I had acquired in South Africaseemed to have left me for the moment.As soon as it was time for my resolution, Mr. Wacha called out my name. I stood up. My headwas reeling. I read the resolution somehow. Someone had printed and distributed amongst thedelegates copies of a poem he had written in praise of foreign emigration. I read the poem andreferred to the grievances of the settlers in South Africa. Just at this moment Mr. Wacha rang thebell. I was sure I had not yet spoken for five minutes. I did not know that the bell was rung in orderto warn me to finish in two minutes more. I had heard others speak for half an hour or threequarters of an hour, and yet no bell was rung for them. I felt hurt and sat down as soon as the bellwas rung. But my childlike intellect thought then that the poem contained an answer to SirPherozeshah. There was no question about the passing of the resolution. In those days therewas hardly any difference between visitors and delegates. Everyone raised his hand and allresolutions passed unanimously. My resolution also fared in this wise and so lost all itsimportance for me. And yet the very fact that it was passed by the Congress was enough todelight my heart, The knowledge that the imprimatur of the Congress meant that of the wholecountry was enough to delight anyone.
  120. Chapter 70 LORD CURZONS DARBART he Congress was over, but as I had to meet the Chamber of Commerce and various people inconnection with work in South Africa, I stayed in Calcutta for a month. Rather than stay this timein a hotel, I arranged to get the required introduction for a room in the India Club. Among itsmembers were some prominent Indians, and I looked forward to getting into touch with them andinteresting them in the work in South Africa. Gokhale frequently went to this Club to play billiards,and when he knew that I was to stay in Calcutta for some time, he invited me to stay with him, Ithankfully accepted the invitation, but did not think it proper to go there by myself. He waited for aday or two and then took me personally. He discovered my reserve and said: Gandhi, you haveto stay in the country, and this sort of reserve will not do. You must get into touch with as manypeople as possible. I want you to do Congress work.I shall record here an incident in the India Club, before I proceed to talk of my stay with Gokhale.Lord Curzon held his darbar about this time. Some Rajas and Maharajas who had been invited tothe darbar were members of the Club. In the Club I always found them wearing fine Bengaleedhotis and shirts and scarves. On the darbar day they put on trousers befitting khansamas andshining boots. I was pained and inquired of one of them the reason for the change.We alone know our unfortunate condition. We alone know the insults we have to put up with, inorder that we may possess our wealth and titles, he replied.But what about these khansama turbans and these shining boots? I asked.Do you see any difference between khansamas and us? he replied, and added, they are ourkhansamas, we are Lord Cruzons khansamas. If I were to absent myself from the levee, I shouldhave to suffer the consequences. If I were to attend it in my usual dress, it would be an offence.And do you think I am going to get any opportunity there of talking to Lord Curzon? Not a bit of it!I was moved to pity for this plainspoken friend.This reminds me of another darbar.At the time when Lord Hardinge laid the foundation stone of the Hindu University, there was adarbar. There were Rajas and Maharajas of course, but Pandit Malaviyaji specially invited mealso to attend it, and I did so.I was distressed to see the Maharajas bedecked like women - silk pyjamas and silk achkans,pearl necklaces round their necks, bracelets on their wrists, pearl and diamond tassels on theirturbans and besides all this swords with golden hilts hanging from their waist-bands.I discovered that these were insignia not of their royalty, but of their slavery. I had thought thatthey must be wearing these badges of impotence of their own free will, but I was told that it wasobligatory for these Rajas to wear all their costly jewels at such functions. I also gathered thatsome of them had a positive dislike for wearing these jewels, and that they never wore themexcept on occasions like the darbar.
  121. I do not know how far my information was correct. But whether they wear them on otheroccasions or not, it is distressing enough to have to attend viceregal darbars in jewels that onlysome women wear.How heavy is the toll of sins and wrongs that wealth, power and prestige exact from man! Chapter 71 A MONTH WITH GOKHALE -- IFrom the very first day of my stay with him Gokhale made me feel completely at home. Hetreated me as though I were his younger brother, he acquainted himself with all my requirementsand arranged to see that I got all I needed. Fortunately my wants were few, and I had cultivatedthe habit of self-help, I needed very little personal attendance. He was deeply impressed with myhabit of fending for myself, my personal cleanliness, perseverance and regularity, and wouldoften overwhelm me with praise.He seemed to keep nothing private from me. He would introduce me to all the important peoplethat called on him. Of these the one who stands foremost in my memory is Dr. (now Sir) P. C.Ray. He lived practically next door and was a very frequent visitor.This is how he introduced Dr. Ray: This is Prof. Ray who having a monthly salary of Rs. 800,keeps just Rs. 40 for himself and devotes the balance to public purposes. He is not, and does notwant to get, married.I see little difference between Dr. Ray as he is today and as he used to be then. His dress used tobe nearly as simple as it is, with this difference of course that whereas it is Khadi now, it used tobe Indian mill-cloth in those days. I felt I could never hear too much of the talks between Gokhaleand Dr. Ray, as they all pertained to public good or were of educative value. At times they werepainful too, containing as they did, strictures on public men. As a result, some of those whom Ihad regarded as stalwart fighters began to look quite puny.To see Gokhale at work was as much a joy as an education. He never wasted a minute. Hisprivate relations and friendships were all for public good. All his talks had reference only to thegood of the country and were absolutely free from any trace of untruth or insincerity. Indiaspoverty and subjection were matters of constant and intense concern to him. Various peoplesought to interest him in different things. But he gave every one of them the same reply: You dothe thing yourself. Let me do my own work. What I want is freedom for my country. After that iswon, we can think of other things. Today that one thing is enough to engage all my time andenergy.His reverence for Ranade could be seen every moment. Ranades authority was final in everymatter, and he would cite it at every step. The anniversary of Ranades death (or birth, I forgetwhich) occurred during my stay with Gokhale, who observed it regularly. There were with himthen, besides myself, his friends Prof. Kathavate and a Sub-Judge. He invited us to take part inthe celebration, and in his speech he gave us his reminiscences of Ranade. He comparedincidentally Ranade, Telang and Mandlik. He eulogized Telangs charming style and Mandliksgreatness as a reformer. Citing an instance of Mandliks solicitude for his clients, he told us ananecdote as to how once, having missed his usual train, he engaged a special train so as to be
  122. able to attend the court in the interest of his client. But Ranade, he said, towered above them all,as a versatile genius. He was not only a great judge, he was an equally great historian, aneconomist and reformer. Although he was a judge, he fearlessly attended the Congress, andeveryone had such confidence in his sagacity that they unquestioningly accepted his decisions.Gokhales joy knew no bounds, as he described these qualities of head and heart which were allcombined in his master.Gokhale used to have a horse-carriage in those days. I did not know the circumstances that hadmade a horse-carriage a necessity for him, and so I remonstrated with him: Cant you make useof the tramcar in going about from place to place? is it derogatory to a leaders dignity?Slightly pained he said, So you also have failed to understand me! I do not use my Councilallowances for my own personal comforts. I envy your liberty to go about in tramcars, but I amsorry I cannot do likewise. When you are the victim of as wide a publicity as I am, it will bedifficult, if not impossible, for you to go about in a tramcar. There is no reason to suppose thateverything that the leaders do is with a view to personal comfort. I love your simple habits. I liveas simply as I can, but some expense is almost inevitable for a man like myself.He thus satisfactorily disposed of one of my complaints, but there was another which he could notdispose of to my satisfaction.But you do not even go out for walks, said I. Is it surprising that you should be always ailing?Should public work leave no time for physical exercise?When do you ever find me free to go out for a walk? he replied.I had such a great regard for Gokhale that I never strove with him. Though this reply was far fromsatisfying me, I remained silent. I believed then and I believe even now, that, no matter whatamount of work one has, one should always find some time exercise, just as one does for onesmeals. It is my humble opinion that, far from taking away from ones capacity for work, it adds toit. Chapter 72 A MONTH WITH GOKHALE -- IIWhilst living under Gokhlaes roof I was far from being a stay-at- home.I had told my Christian friends in South Africa that in India I would meet the Christian Indians andacquint myself with their condition. I had heard of Babu Kalicharan Banerji and held him in highregard. He took a prominent part in the Congress, and I had none of the misgivings about himthat I had about the average Christian Indian, who stood aloof from the Congress and isolatedhimself from Hindus and Musalmans. I told Gokhale that I was thinking of meeting him. He said:What is good of your seeing him? He is a very good man, but I am afraid he will not satisfy you. Iknow him very well. However, you can certainly meet him if you like?.
  123. I sought an appointment, which he readly gave me. When I went, I found that his wife was on herdeath-bed. His house was simple. In the Congress I had seen him in a coat and trusers, but I wasglad to find him now wearing a Bengal #dhoti# and shirt. I liked his simple mode of dress, thoughI myself then wore a Parsi coat and trousers. Without much ado I presented my difficulties to him.He asked: DO you believe in the doctrine of original sin?I do, said I.Well then, Hinduism offers no absolution therefrom, Christianity does, and added: The wages ofsin is death, and the Bible says that the only way of deliverance is surrender unto Jesus.I put forward #Bhakti-marga# (the path of devotion) of the #Bhagavadgita#, but to no avail. Ithanked him for his goodness. He failed to satisfy me, but I benefited by the interview.During these days I walked up and down the streets of Calcutta. I went to most places on foot. Imet Justice Mitter and Sir Gurdas Banerji, whose help I wanted in my work in South Africa. Andabout this time I met Raja Sir Pyarimohan Mukarji.Kalicharan Banerji had spoken to me about the Kali temple, which I was eager to see, especiallyas I had read about it in books. So I went there one day, Justice Mitters house was in the samelocality, and I therefore went to the temple on the same day that I visited him. On the way I saw astream of sheep going to be sacrificed to kali. Rows of beggars lined the lane leading to thetemple. There were religious mendicants too, and even in those days I was sternly opposed togiving alms to sturdy beggars. A crowd of them pursued me. One of such men was found seatedon a verandah. He stopped me, and accosted me: Whither are you going, my boy? I replied tohim.He asked my companion and me to sit down, which we did.I asked him: Do you regard this sacrifice as religion?Who would regard killing of animals as religion?Then, why dont you preach against it?Thats not my business. Our business is to worship God.But could you not find any other place in which to worship God?All places are equally good for us. The people are like a flock of sheep, following where leaderslead them. It is no business of us #sadhus#.We did not prolong the discussion but passed on to the temple. We were greeted by rivers ofblood. I could not bear to stand there. I was exasperated and restless. i have never forgotten thatsight.That very evening I had an invitation to dinner at a party of Bengali friends. There I spoke to afriend about this cruel form of worship. He said: The sheep dont feel anything. The noise and thedrum- beating there deaden all sensation of pain.I could not swallow this. I told him that, if the sheep had speech, they would tell a different tale. Ifelt that the cruel custom ought to be stopped. I thought of the story of Buddha, but I also saw thatthe task was beyond my capacity.
  124. I hold today the opinion as I held then. To my mind the life of a lamb is no less precious than thatof a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body. Ihold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it s to protection by man from the crueltyof man. But he who has not qualified himself for such service is unable to afford to it anyprotection. I must go through more self-purification and sacrifice. before I can hope to save theselambs from this unholy sacrifice. Today I think I must die pining for this self-purifiacation andsacrifice. It is my constant prayer that there may be born on earth some great that there may beborn on earth some great spirit, man or woman, fired with divine pity, who will deliver us from thisheinous sin, save the lives of the innocent creatures, and purify the temple. How is it that Bengalwith all its knowledge, intelligence, sacrifice, and emotion tolerates this slaughter? Chapter 73 A MONTH WITH GOKHALE -- IIIThe terrible sacrifice offered to Kali in the name of religion enhanced my desire to know Bengalilife. I had read and heard a good deal about the Brahmo Samaj. I knew something about the lifeof Pratap Chandra Mazumdar. I had attended some of the meetings addressed by him. I securedhis life of Keshav Chandra Sen, read it with great interest, and understood the distinction betweenSadharan Brahmo Samaj, and Adi Brahmo Samaj. I met Pandit Shivanath Shastri and incompany with Prof. Kathavate went to see Maharshi Devendranath Tagore, but as no interviewswith him were allowed then, we could not see him. We were, however, invited to a celebration ofthe Brahmo Samaj held at his place, and there we had the privilege of listening to fine Bengalimusic. Ever since I have been a lover of Bengali music.Having seen enough of the Brahmo Samaj, it was impossible to be satisfied without seeingSwami Vivekanand. So with great enthusiasm I went to Belur Math, mostly, or maybe all the way,on foot. I loved the sequestered site of the Math. I was disappointed and sorry to be told that theSwami was at his Calcutta house, lying ill, and could not be seen.I then ascertained the place of residence of Sister Nivedita, and met her in a Chowringheemansion. I was taken aback by the splendour that surrounded her, and even in our conversationthere was not much meeting ground. I spoke to Gokhale about this, and he said he did notwonder that there could be no point of contact between me and a volatile person like her.I met her again at Mr. Pestonji Padshahs place. I happened to come in just as she was talking tohis old mother, and so I became an interpreter between the two. In spite of my failure to find anyagreement with her, I could not but notice and admire her overflowing love for Hinduism. I cameto know of her books later.I used to divide my day between seeing the leading people in Calcutta regarding the work inSouth Africa, and visiting and studying the religious and public institutions of the city. I onceaddressed a meeting, presided over by Dr. Mullick, on the work of the Indian Ambulance Corps inthe Boer War. My acquaintance with #The Englishman# stood me in good stead on this occasiontoo. Mr. Saunders was ill then, but rendered me as much help as in 1896. Gokhale liked thisspeech of mine, and he was very glad to hear Dr. Ray praising it.
  125. Thus my stay under the roof of Gokhale made my work in Calcutta very easy, brought me intotouch with the foremost Bengali families, and was the beginning of my intimate contact withBengal.I must needs skip over many a reminiscence of this memorable month. Let me simply mention myflying visit to Burma, and the #foongis# there. I was pained by their lethargy. I saw the goldenpagoda. I did not like the innumerable little candles burning in the temple, and the rats runningabout the sanctum brought to my mind thoughts of Swami Dayanands experience at Morvi. Thefreedom and energy of the Burmese women charmed just as the indolence of the men painedme. I also saw, during my brief sojourn, that just as Bombay was not India, Rangoon was notBurma, and that just as we in India have become commission agents of English merchants, evenso in Burma have we combined with the English merchants, in making the Burmese people ourcommission agents.On my return from Burma I took leave of Gokhale. The separation was a wrench, but my work inBengal, or rather Calcutta, was finished, and I had no occasion to stay any longer.Before settling down I had thought of making a tour through India travelling third class, and ofacquainting myself with the hardships of third class passengers. I spoke to Gokhale about this. Tobegin with he ridiculed the idea, but when I explained to him what I hoped to see, he cheerfullyapproved. I planned to go first to Benares to pay my respects to Mrs. Besant, who was then ill.It was necessary to equip myself anew for the third class tour. Gokhale himself gave me a metaltiffin-box and got it filled with sweetballs and #puris#. I purchased a canvas bag worth twelveannas and a long coat made of Chhaya wool. The bag was to contain this coat, a #dhoti#, a toweland a shirt. I had a blanket as well to cover myself with and a water jug. Thus equipped I set forthon my travels, Gokhlae and Dr. Ray came to the station to see me off. I had asked them both notto trouble to come, but they insisted. "I should not have come if you had gone first class, but nowI had to, said Gokhale.No one stopped Gokhale from going on to the platform. He was in his silk turban, jacket and#dhoti#. Dr. Ray was in his Bengali dress. He was stopped by the ticket collector, but on Gokhaletelling him that he was his friend, he was admitted.Thus with their good wishes I started on my journey. Chapter 74 IN BENARESThe journey was from Calcutta to Rajkot, and I planned to halt at Benares, Agra, Jaipur andPalanpur en route. I had not the time to see any more places than these. In each city I stayed oneday and put up in dharmashalas or with pandas like the ordinary pilgrims, excepting at Palanpur.So far as I can remember, I did not spend more than Rs. 31 (including the train fare) on thisjourney.In travelling third class I mostly preferred the ordinary to the mail trains, as I knew that the latterwere more crowded and the fares in them higher.
  126. The third class compartments are practically as dirty, and the closet arrangements as bad, todayas they were then, There may be a little improvement now, but the difference between thefacilities provided for the first and the third classes is out of all proportion to the differencebetween the fares for the two classes. Third class passengers are treated like sheep and theircomforts are sheeps comforts. In Europe I travelled third and only once first, just to see what itwas like but there I noticed no such difference between the first and the third classes. In SouthAfrica class comforts are better there than here. In parts of South Africa third class compartmentsare provided with sleeping accommodation and cushioned seats. The accommodation is alsoregulated, so as to prevent overcrowding, whereas here I have found the regulation limit usuallyexceeded.The indifference of the railway authorities to the comforts of the third class passengers, combinedwith the dirty and inconsiderate habits of the passengers themselves, makes third class travellinga trial for a passenger of cleanly ways. These unpleasant habits commonly include throwing ofrubbish on the floor of the compartment, smoking at all hours and in all places, betel and tobaccochewing, converting of the whole carriage into a spittoon, shouting and yelling, and using foullanguage, regardless of the convenience or comfort of fellow passengers. I have noticed littledifference between my experience of the third class travelling in 1902 and that of my unbrokenthird class tours from 1915 to 1919.I can think of only one remedy for this awful state of things that educated men should make apoint of travelling third class and reforming the habits of the people, as also of never letting therailway authorities rest in peace, sending in complaints wherever necessary, never resorting tobribes or any unlawful means for obtaining their own comforts, and never putting up withinfringements of rules on the part of anyone concerned. This, I am sure, would bring aboutconsiderable improvement.My serious illness in 1918-19 has unfortunately compelled me practically to give up third classtravelling, and it has been a matter of constant pain and shame to me, especially because thedisability came at a time when the agitation for the removal of the hardships of third classpassengers was making fair headway. The hardship of poor railway and steamship passengers,accentuated by their bad habits, the undue facilities allowed by Government to foreign trade, andsuch other things, make an important group of subjects, worthy to be taken up by one or twoenterprising and persevering workers who could devote their full time to it.But I shall leave the third class passengers at that, and come to my experience in Benares. Iarrived there in the morning. I had decided to put up with a panda. Numerous Brahmanssurrounded me, as soon as I got out of the train, and I selected one who struck me to becomparatively cleaner and better than the rest. It proved to be a good choice. There was a cow inthe courtyard of his house and an upper storey where I was given a lodging. I did not want tohave any food without ablution in the Ganges in the proper orthodox manner. The panda madepreparations for it. I had told him beforehand that on no account could I give him more than arupee and four annas as dakshina, and that he should therefore keep this in mind while makingthe preparations.The panda readily assented. Be the pilgrim rich or poor, said he, the service is the same inevery case. But the amount of dakshina we receive depends upon the will and the ability of thepilgrim. I did not find that the panda at all abridged the usual formalities in my case. The puja wasover at twelve oclock, and I went to the Kashi Vishvanath temple for darshan. I was deeplypained by what I saw there. When practising as a barrister in Bombay in 1891. I had occasion toattend a lecture in pilgrimage to Kashi in the Prarthana Samaj hall. I was therefore prepared forsome measure of disappointment. But the actual disappointment was greater than I hadbargained for.
  127. The approach was through a narrow and slippery lane. Quiet there was none. The swarming fliesand the noise made by the shopkeepers and pilgrims were perfectly in-sufferable.Where one expected an atmosphere of meditation and communion it was conspicuous by itsabsence. One had to seek that atmosphere in oneself. I did observe devout sisters, who wereabsorbed in meditation, entirely unconscious of the environment. But for this the authorities of thetemple could scarcely claim any credit. The authorities should be responsible for creating andmaintaining about the temple a pure sweet and serene atmosphere, physical as well as moral.Instead of this I found a bazar where cunning shopkeepers were selling sweets and toys of thelatest fashion.When I reached the temple. I was greeted at the entrance by a stinking mass of rotten flowers.The floor was paved with fine marble, which was however broken by some devotee innocent ofaesthetic taste who had set it with rupees serving as an excellent receptacle for dirt.I went near the Janana-vapi (well of knowledge). I searched here for God but failed to find Him. Iwas not therefore in a particularly good mood. The surroundings of the Jnana-vapi too I found tobe dirty. I had no mind to give any dakshina. So I offered a pie. The panda in charge got angryand threw away the pie. He swore at me and said, This insult will take you straight to hell.This did not perturb me. Maharaj, said I, whatever fate has in store for me, it does not behoveone of your class to indulge in such language. You may take this pie if you like, or you will losethat too.Go away, he replied, I dont care for your pie. And then followed a further volley of abuse.I took up the pie and went my way, flattering myself that the Brahman had lost a pie and I hadsaved one. But the Maharaj was hardly the man to let the pie go. He called me back and said, Allright, leave the pie here, I would rather not be as you are. If I refuse your pie, it will be bad foryou.I silently gave him the pie and, with a sigh, went away.Since then I have twice been to Kashi Vishvanath, but that has been after I had already beenafflicted with the title of Mahatma and experiences such as I have detailed above had becomeimpossible. People eager to have my darshan would not permit me to have a darshan of thetemple. The woes of Mahatmas are known to Mahatmas alone. Otherwise the dirt and the noisewere the same as before.If anyone doubts the infinite mercy of God, let him have a look at these sacred places. How muchhypocrisy and irreligion does the Prince of Yogis suffer to be perpetrated in His holy name? Heproclaimed long ago:Whatever a man sows, that shall he reap. The law of Karma is inexorable and impossible ofevasion. There is thus hardly any need for God to interfere. He laid down the law and, as it were,retired.After this visit to the temple, I waited upon Mrs. Besant. I knew that she had just recovered froman illness. I sent in my name. She came at once. As I wished only to pay my respects to her, Isaid, I am aware that you are in delicate health. I only wanted to pay my respects. I am thankful
  128. that you have been good enough to receive me in spite of your indifferent health. I will not detainyou any longer.So saying, I took leave of her. Chapter 75 SETTLED IN BOMBAYGokhale was very anxious that I should settle down in Bombay, practise at the bar and helphim in public work. Public work in those days meant Congress work, and the chief work of theinstitution which he had assisted to found was carrying on the Congress administration.I liked Gokhales advice, but I was not overconfident of success as a barrister. The unpleasantmemories of past failure were yet with me, and I still hated as poison the use of flattery for gettingbriefs.I therefore decided to start work first at Rajkot. Kevalram Mavji Dave, my old well-wisher, whohad induced me to go to England, was there, and he started me straightaway with three briefs.Two of them were appeals before the Judicial Assistant to the Political Agent in Kathiawad andone was an original case in Jamnagar. This last was rather important. On my saying that I couldnot trust myself to do it justice, Kevalram Dave exclaimed: Winning or losing is no concern ofyours. You will simply try your best, and I am of course there to assist you.The counsel on the other side was the late Sjt. Samarth. I was fairly well prepared. Not that Iknew much of Indian law, but Kevalram Dave had instructed me very thoroughly. I had heardfriends say, before I went out to South Africa, that Sir Pherozeshah Mehta had the law ofevidence at his finger-tips and that was the secret of his success. I had borne this in mind, andduring the voyage had carefully studied the Indian Evidence Act with commentaries thereon.There was of course also the advantage of my legal experience in South Africa.I won the case and gained some confidence. I had no fear about the appeals, which weresuccessful. All this inspired a hope in me that after all I might not fail even in Bombay.But before I set forth the circumstances in which I decided to go to Bombay, I shall narrate myexperience of the inconsiderateness and ignorance of English officials. The Judicial Assistantscourt was peripatetic. He was constantly touring, and vakils and their clients had to follow himwherever he moved his camp. The vakils would charge more whenever they had to go out ofheadquarters, and so the clients had naturally to incur double the expenses. The inconveniencewas no concern of the judge.The appeal of which I am talking was to be heard at Veraval where plague was raging. I have arecollection that there were as many as fifty cases daily in the place with a population of 5,500. Itwas practically deserted, and I put up in a deserted #dharmashala# at some distance from thetown. But where the clients to stay? If they were poor, they had simply to trust themselves toGods mercy.
  129. A friend who also had cases before the court had wired that I should put in an application for thecamp to be moved to some other station because of the plague at Veraval. On my submitting theapplication, the sahib asked me. Are you afraid?I answered: It is not a question of my being afraid. I think I can shift for myself, but what about theclients?The plague has come to stay in India, replied the sahib. Why dear it? The climate of Veraval islovely. [The sahib lived far away from the town in a palatial tent pitched on the seashore.] Surelypeople must learn to live thus in the open.It was no use arguing against this philosophy. The sahib told his shirastedar: Make a note ofwhat Mr. Gandhi says, and let me know if it is very inconvenient for the vakils or the clients.The sahib of course had honestly done what he thought was the right thing. But how could theman have an idea of the hardships of poor India? How was he to understand the needs, habits,idiosyncrasies and customs of the people? How was one, accustomed to measure things in goldsovereigns, all at once to make calculations in tiny bits of copper? As the elephant is powerless tothink in the terms of the ant, in spite of the best intentions in the world, even so is the Englishmanpowerless to think in the terms of, or legislate for, the Indian.But to resume the thread of story. In spite of my successes, I had been thinking of staying on inRajkot for some time longer, when one day Kevalram Dave came to me and said: Gandhi, we willnot suffer you to vegetate here. You must settle in Bombay.But who will find work for me there? I asked. Will you find the expenses?Yes, yes, I will, said he. We shall bring you down here sometimes as a big barrister fromBombay and drafting work we shall send you there. It lies with us vakils to make or mar abarrister. You have proved your worth in Jamnagar and Veraval, and I have therefore not theleast anxiety about you. You are destined to do public work, and we will not allow you to beburied in Kathiawad. So tell me, then, when you will go to Bombay.I am expecting a remittance from Natal. As soon as I get it I will go, I replied.The money came in about two weeks, and I went to Bombay. I took chambers in Payne, Gilbertand Sayanis offices, and it looked as though I had settled down. Chapter 76 FAITH ON ITS TRIALT hough I had hired chambers in the fort and a house in Girgaum, God would not let me settledown. Scarcely had I moved into my new house when my second son Manilal, who had alreadybeen through an acute attack of smallpox some years back, had a severe attack of typhoid,combined with pneumonia and signs of delirium at night.
  130. The doctor was called in. He said medicine would have little effect, but eggs and chicken brothmight be given with profit.Manilal was only ten years old. To consult his wishes was out of the question. Being his guardianI had to decide. The doctor was a very good Parsi. I told him that we were all vegetarians and thatI could not possibly give either of the two things to my son. Would he therefore recommendsomething else?Your sons life is in danger, said the good doctor. We could give him milk diluted with water, butthat will not give him enough nourishment. As you know, I am called in by many Hindu families,and they do not object to anything I prescribe. I think you will be well advised not to be so hard onyour son.What you say is quite right, said I. As a doctor you could not do otherwise. But my responsibilityis very great. If the boy had been grown up, I should certainly have tried to ascertain his wishesand respected them. But here I have to think and decide for him. To my mind it is only on suchoccasions, that a mans faith is truly tested Rightly or wrongly it is part of my religious convictionthat man may not eat meat, eggs, and the like. There should be a limit even means of keepingourselves alive. Even for itself we may not so certain things. Religion, as I understand it, does notpermit me to use meat or eggs for me or mine even on occasions like this, and I must thereforetake the risk that you say is likely. But I beg of you one thing. As I cannot avail myself of yourtreatment, I propose to try some hydropathic remedies which I happen to know. But I shall notknow how to examine the boys pulse, chest, lungs, etc. If you will kindly look in from time to timeto examine him and keep me informed of his condition, I shall be grateful to you.The good doctor appreciated my difficulty and agreed to my request. Though Manilal could nothave made his choice, I told him what had passed between the doctor and myself and asked himhis opinion.Do try your hydropathic treatment, he said. I will not have eggs or chicken broth.This made me glad, though I realized that, if I had given him either of these, he would have takenit.I knew Kuhnes treatment and had tried it too. I knew as well that fasting also could be tried withprofit. So I began to give Manilal hip baths according to Kuhne, never keeping him in the tub formore than three minutes, and kept him on orange juice mixed with water for three days.But the temperature persisted, going up to 104. At night he would be delirious. I began to getanxious. What would people say of me? What would my elder brother think of me? Could we notcall in another doctor? Why not have an Ayurvedic physician? What right had the parents to inflicttheir fads on their children?I was haunted by thoughts like these. Then a contrary current would start. God would surely bepleased to see that I was giving the same treatment to my son as I would give myself. I had faithin hydropathy, and little faith in allopathy. The doctors could not guarantee recovery. At best theycould experiment. The tread of life was in the hands of God. Why not trust it to Him and in Hisname go on with what I thought was the right treatment?My mind was torn between these conflicting thoughts. It was night. I was in Manilals bed lying byhis side. I decided to give him a wet sheet pack. I got up, wetted a sheet, wrung the water out of itand wrapped it about Manilal, keeping only his head out and then covered him with two blankets.To the head I applied a wet towel. The whole body was burning like hot iron, and quite parched.There was absolutely no perspiration.
  131. I was sorely tired. I left Manilal in the charge of his mother, and went out for a walk on Chaupati torefresh myself. It was about ten oclock. Very few pedestrians were out. Plunged in deep thought,I scarcely looked at them, My honour is in Thy keeping oh Lord, in this hour of trial, I repeated tomyself. #Ramanama# was on my lips. After a short time I returned, my heart beating within mybreast.No sooner had I entered the room than Manilal said, You have returned, Bapu?Yes, darling.Do please pull me out. I am burning.Are you perspiring, my boy?I am simply soaked. Do please take me out.I felt his forehead. It was covered with beads of perspiration. The temperature was going down. Ithanked God.Manilal, your fever is sure to go now. A little more perspiration and then I will take you out.Pray, no. Do deliver me from this furnace. Wrap me some other time if you like.I just managed to keep him under the pack for a few minutes more by diverting him. Theperspiration streamed down his forehead. I undid the pack and dried his body. Father and son fellasleep in the same bed.And each slept like a log. Next morning Manilal had much less fever. He went on thus for fortydays on diluted milk and fruit juices. I had no fear now. It was an obstinate type of fever, but it hadbeen got under control.Today Manilal is the healthiest of my boys. Who can say whether his recovery was due to Godsgrace, or to hydropathy, or to careful dietary and nursing? Let everyone decide according to hisown faith. For my part I was sure that God had saved my honour, and that belief remainsunaltered to this day. Chapter 77 TO SOUTH AFRICA AGAINManilal was restored to health, but I saw that the Girgaum house was not habitable. It wasdamp and ill-lighted. So in consultation with Shri Revashankar Jagjivan I decided to hire somewell-ventilated bungalow in a suburb of Bombay. I wandered about in Bandra and Santa Cruz.The slaughter house in Bandra prevented our choice falling there. Ghatkopar and places near itwere too far from the sea. At last we hit upon a fine bungalow in Santa Cruz. which we hired asbeing the best from the point of view of sanitation.
  132. I took a first class season ticket from Santa Cruz to Churchgate, and remember having frequentlyfelt a certain pride in being the only first class passenger in my compartment. Often I walked toBandra in order to take the fast train from there direct to Churchgate.I prospered in my profession better than I had expected. My South African clients often entrustedme with some work, and it was enough to enable me to pay my way.I had not yet succeeded in securing any work in the High Court, but I attended the moot thatused to be held in those days, though I never ventured to take part in it. I recall JamiatramNanabhai taking a prominent part. Like other fresh barristers I made a point of attending thehearing of cases in the High Court, more, I am afraid, for enjoying the soporific breeze comingstraight from the sea than for adding to my knowledge. I observed that I was not the only one toenjoy this pleasure. It seemed to be the fashion and therefore nothing to be ashamed of.However I began to make use of the High Court library and make fresh acquaintances and feltthat before long I should secure work in the High Court.Thus whilst on the one hand I began to feel somewhat at ease about my profession, on the otherhand Gokhale, whose eyes were always on me, had been busy making his own plans on mybehalf. He peeped in at my chambers twice or thrice every week, often in company with friendswhom he wanted me to know, and he kept me acquainted with his mode of work.But it may be said that God has never allowed any of my own plans to stand. He has disposedthem in His own way.Just when I seemed to be settling down as I had intended I received an unexpected cable fromSouth Africa: Chamberlain expected here. Please return immediately. I remembered my promiseand cabled to say that I should be ready to start the moment they put me in funds. They promptlyresponded, I gave up the chambers and started for South Africa.I had an idea that the work there would keep me engaged for at least a year, so I kept thebungalow and left my wife and children there.I believed then that enterprising youths who could not find an opening in the country shouldemigrate to other lands. I therefore took with me four or five such youths, one of whom wasMaganlal Gandhi.The Gandhis were and are a big family. I wanted to find out all those who wished to leave thetrodden path and venture abroad. My father used to accommodate a number of them in somestate service. I wanted them to be free from this spell. I neither could nor would secure otherservice for them; I wanted them to be self-reliant.But as my ideals advanced, I tried to persuade these youths also to conform their ideals to mine,and I had the greatest success in guiding Maganlal Gandhi. But about this later.The separation from wife and children, the breaking up of a settled establishment, and the goingfrom the certain to the uncertain- all this was for a moment painful, but I had inured myself to anuncertain life. I think it is wrong to expect certainties in this world, where all else but God that isTruth is an uncertainty. All that appears and happens about and around us is uncertain transient.But there is a Supreme Being hidden therein as a Certainty, and one would be blessed if onecould catch a glimpse of that Certainty and hitch ones waggon to it. The quest for that Truth isthe summum bonum of life.
  133. I reached Durban not a day too soon. There was work waiting for me. The date for the deputationto wait on Mr. Chamberlain had been fixed. I had to draft the memorial to be submitted to him andaccompany the deputation. Chapter 78 LOVES LABOURS LOST?Mr. Chamberlain had come to get a gift of 35 million pounds from South Africa, and to win thehearts of Englishmen and Boers. So he gave a cold shoulder to the Indian deputation.You know, he said that the Imperial Government has little control over self-governing Colonies.Your grievances seem to be genuine. I shall do what I can, if you wish to live in their midst.The reply cast a chill over the members of the deputation. I was also disappointed. It was an eye-opener for us all, and I saw that we should start with our work de novo. I explained the situation tomy colleagues.As a matter of fact there was nothing wrong about Mr. Chamberlains reply. It was well that he didnot mince matters. He had brought home to us in a rather gentle way the rule of might being rightor the law of the sword.But sword we had none. We scarcely had the nerve and the muscle even to receive sword-cuts.Mr. Chamberlain had given only a short time to the sub-continent. If Shrinagar to Cape Comorinis 1,900 miles, Durban to Capetown is not less than 1,100 miles, and Mr. Chamberlain had tocover the long distance at hurricane speed.From Natal he hastened to the Transvaal. I had to prepare the case for the Indians there as welland submit it to him. But how was I get to Pretoria? Our people there were not in a position toprocure the necessary legal facilities for my getting to them in time. The War had reduced theTransvaal to a howling wilderness. There were neither provisions nor clothing available. Empty orclosed shops were there, waiting to be replenished or opened, but that was a matter of time.Even refugees could not be allowed to return until the shops were ready with provisions. EveryTransvaller had therefore to obtain a permit. The European had no difficulty in getting one, but theIndian found it very hard.During the War many officers and soldiers had come to South Africa from India and Ceylon, and itwas considered to be the duty of the British authorities to provide for such of them as decided tosettle there. They had in any event to appoint new officers, and these experienced men came inquite handy. The quick ingenuity of some of them created a new department. It showed theirresourcefulness. There was a special department for the Negroes. Why then should there not beone for the Asiatics? The argument seemed to be quite plausible. When I reached the Transvaal,this new department had already been opened and was gradually spreading its tentacles. Theofficers who issued permits to the returning refugees might issue them to all, but how could theydo so in respect of the Asiatics without the intervention of the new department? And if the permitswere to be issued on the recommendation of the new department, some of the responsibility andburden of the permit officers could thus be lessened. This was how they had argued. The fact,however, was that the new department wanted some apology for work, and the men wanted
  134. money. If there had been no work , the department would have been unnecessary and wouldhave been discontinued. So they found this work for themselves.The Indians had to apply to this department. A reply would be vouchsafed many days after. Andas there were large numbers wishing to return to the Transvaal, there grew up an army ofintermediaries or touts, who with the officers, looted the poor Indians to the tune of thousands. Iwas told that no permit could be had without influence, pounds in spite of the influence which onemight bring to bear. Thus seemed to be no way open to me. I went to my old friend, the PoliceSuperintendent of Durban, and said to him: Please introduce me to the Permit Officer and helpme to obtain a permit. You know that I have been a resident of the Transvaal. He immediatelyput on his hat, came out and secured me a permit. There was hardly an hour left before my trainwas to start. I had kept my luggage ready. I thanked Superintendent Alexander and started forPretoria.I now had a fair idea of the difficulties ahead. On reaching Pretoria I drafted the memorial. InDurban I do not recollect the Indians having been asked to submit in advance the names of theirrepresentatives, but here there was the new department and it asked to do so. The PretoriaIndians had already come to know that the officers wanted to exclude me.But another chapter is necessary for this painful though amusing incident. Chapter 79 AUTOCRATS FROM ASIAThe officers at the head of the new department were at a loss to know how I had entered theTransvaal. They inquired of the Indians who used to go to them, but these could say nothingdefinite. The officers only ventured a guess that I might have succeeded in entering without apermit on the strength of my old connections. If that was the case, I was liable to be arrested!It is a general practice, on the termination of a big war, to invest the Government of the day withspecial powers. This was the case in South Africa. The Government had passed a PeacePreservation Ordinance, which provided that anyone entering the Transvaal without a permitshould be liable to arrest and imprisonment. The question of arresting me under this provisionwas mooted, but no one could summon up courage enough to ask me to produce my permit.The officers had of course sent telegrams to Durban, and when they found that I had entered witha permit, they were disappointed. But they were not the men to be defeated by suchdisappointment. Though I had succeeded in entering the Transvaal, they could still successfullyprevent me from waiting on Mr. Chamberlain.So the community was asked to submit the names of the representives who were to form theDeputation. Colour prejudice was of course in evidence everywhere in South Africa, but I was notprepared to find here the dirty and underhand dealing among officials that I was familiar with inIndia. In South Africa the public departments were maintained for the good of the people andwere responsible to public opinion. Hence officials in charge had a certain courtesy of mannerand humility about them, and coloured people also got the benefit of it more or less. With thecoming of the officers from Asia, came also its autocracy, and the habits that the autocrats had
  135. imbibed there. In South Africa there was a kind of responsible government or democracy,whereas the commodity imported from Asia was autocracy pure and simple; for the Asiatics hadno responsible government, there being a foreign power governing them. In South Africa theEuropeans were settled emigrants. They had become South African citizens and had control overthe departmental officers. But the autocrats from Asia now appeared on the scene, and theIndians in consequence found themselves between the devil and the deep sea.I had a fair taste of this autocracy. I was first summoned to see the chief of the department, anofficer from Ceylon. Lest I should appear to exaggerate when I say that I was summoned to seethe chief, I shall make myself clear. No written order was sent to me. Indian leaders often had tovisit the Asiatic officers. Among these was the late Sheth Tyeb Haji Khanmahomed. The chief ofthe office asked him who I was and why I had come there.He is our adviser, said Tyeb Sheth, and he has come here at our request.Then what are we here for? Have we not been appointed to protect you? What can Gandhi knowof the conditions here? asked the autocrat.Tyeb Sheth answered the charge as best he could: Of course you are there. But Gandhi is ourman. He knows our language and understands us. You are after all officials.The Sahib ordered Tyeb Sheth to fetch me before him. I went to the Sahib in company with TyebSheth and others. No seats were offered, we were all kept standing.What brings you here? said the Sahib addressing me.I have come here at the request of my fellow countrymen to help them with my advice, I replied.But dont you know that you have no right to come here? The permit you hold was given you bymistake. You must go back. You shall not wait on Mr. Chamberlain. It is for the protection of theIndians here that the Asiatic Department had been especially created. Well, you may go. Withthis he bade me good-bye, giving me no opportunity for a reply.But he detained my companions. He gave them a sound scolding and advised them to send meaway.They returned chagrined. We were now confronted with an unexpected situation. Chapter 80 POCKETED THE INSULTI smarted under the insult, but as I had pocketed many such in the past I had become inured tothem. I therefore decided to forget this latest one and take what course a dispassionate view ofthe case might suggest.
  136. We had a letter from the Chief of the Asiatic Department to the effect that, as I had been foundnecessary to omit my name from the deputation which was to wait on him.The letter was more than my co-workers could bear. They proposed to drop the idea of thedeputation altogether. I pointed out to them the awkward situation of the community.If you do not represent your case before Mr. Chamberlain, said I, it will be presumed that youhave no case at all. After all, the representation has to be made in writing, and we have got itready. It does not matter in the least whether I read it or someone else reads it. Mr. Chamberlainis not going to argue the matter with us. I am afraid we must swallow the insult.I had scarcely finished speaking when Tyeb Sheth cried out, Does not an insult to you amount toan insult to the community? How can we forget that you are our representative?Too true. said I. But even the community will have to pocket insults like these. Have we anyalternative?Come what may, why should we swallow a fresh insult? Nothing worse can possibly happen tous. Have we many rights to lose? asked Tyeb Sheth.It was a spirited reply, but of what avail was it? I was fully conscious of the limitations of thecommunity. I pacified my friends and advised them to have, in my place, Mr. George Godfrey, anIndian barrister.So Mr. Godfrey led the deputation. Mr. Chamberlain referred in his reply to my exclusion. Ratherthan hear the same representative over and over again, is it not better to have someone new? hesaid, and tried to heal the wound.But all this, far from ending the matter, only added to the work of the community and also to mine.We had to start afresh.It is at your instance that the community helped in the war, and you see the result now, were thewords with which some people taunted me. But the taunt had no effect. I do not regret myadvice, said I. I maintain that we did well in taking part in the war. In doing so we simply did ourduty. We may not look forward to any reward for our labours, but it is my firm conviction that allgood action is bound to bear fruit in the end. Let us forget the past and think of the task beforeus. With which the rest agreed.I added: To tell you the truth the work for which you had called me is practically finished. But Ibelieve I ought not to leave the Transvaal, so far as it is possible, even if you permit me to returnhome. Instead of carrying on my work from Natal, as before, I must now do so from here. I mustno longer think of returning to India within a year, but must get enrolled in the Transvaal SupremeCourt. I have confidence enough to deal with this new department. If we do not do this, thecommunity will be hounded out of the country, besides being thoroughly robbed out of thecountry, besides being thoroughly robbed. Every day it will have fresh insults heaped upon it. Thefacts that Mr. Chamberlain refused to see me and that the official insulted me, are nothing beforethe humiliation of the whole community. It will become impossible to put up with the veritabledogs life that we shall be expected to lead.So I set the ball rolling, discussed things with Indians in Pretoria and Johannesburg and ultimatelydecided to set up office in Johannesburg.
  137. It was indeed doubtful whether I would be enrolled in the Transvaal Supreme Court. But the LawSociety did not oppose my application, and the Court allowed it. It was difficult for an Indian tosecure rooms for office in a suitable locality. But I had come in fairly close contact with Mr. Ritch,who was then one of the merchants there. Through the good offices of a house agent known tohim, I succeeded in securing suitable rooms for my office in the legal quarters of the city, and Istarted on my professional work. Chapter 81 QUICKENED SPIRIT OF SACRIFICEBefore I narrate the struggle for the Indian settlers rights in the Transvaal and their dealing withthe Asiatic Department, I must turn to some other aspects of my life.Up to now there had been in me a mixed desire. The spirit of self- sacrifice was tempered by thedesire to lay by something for the future.About the time I took up chambers in Bombay, an American insurance agent had come there aman with a pleasing countenance and a sweet tongue. As though we were old friends hediscussed my future welfare. All men of your status in America have their lives insured. Shouldyou not also insure yourself against the future? Life is uncertain. We in America regard it as areligious obligation to get insured. Can I not tempt you to take out a small policy?Up to this time I had given the cold shoulder to all the agents I had met in South Africa and India,for I had though that life assurance implied fear and want of faith in God. But now I succumbed tothe temptation of the American agent. As he proceeded with his argument, I had before myminds eye a picture of my wife and children. Man, you have sold almost all the ornaments ofyour wife, I said to myself. If something were to happen to you, the burden of supporting her andthe children would fall on your poor brother, who has so nobly filled the place of father. Howwould that become you? With these and similar arguments I persuaded myself to take out apolicy for Rs. 10,000.But when my mode of life changed in South Africa, my outlook changed too. All the steps I took atthis time of trial were taken in the name of God and for His service. I did not know how long Ishould have to stay in South Africa. I had a fear that I might never be able to get back to India: soI decided to keep my wife and children with me and earn enough to support them. This plan mademe deplore the life policy and feel ashamed of having been caught in the net of the insuranceagent. If, I said to myself, my brother is really in the position of my father, surely he would notconsider it too much of a burden to support my widow, if it came to that, And what reason had I toassume that death would claim me earlier than the others? After all the real protector was neitherI nor my brother, but the Almighty. In getting my life insured I had robbed my wife and children oftheir self- reliance. Why should they not be expected to take care of themselves? What happenedto the families of the numberless poor in the world? Why should I not count myself as one ofthem?A multitude of such thoughts passed though my mind, but I did not immediately act upon them. Irecollect having paid at least one insurance premium in South Africa.
  138. Outward circumstances too supported this train of thought. During my first sojourn in South Africait was Christian influence that had kept alive in me the religious sense. Now it was theosophicalinfluence that added strength to it. Mr. Ritch was a theosophist and put me in touch with thesociety at Johannesburg. I never became a member, as I had my differences, but I came in closecontact with almost every theosophist. I had religious discussions with them every day. Thereused to be readings from theosophical books and sometimes I had occasion to address theirmeetings. The chief thing about theosophy is to cultivate and promote the idea of brotherhood.We had considerable discussion over this, and I criticized the members where their conduct didnot appear to me to square with their ideal. The criticism was not without its whole some effect onme. It led to introspection. Chapter 82 RESULT OF INTROSPECTIONWhen, in 1893, I came in close contact with Christian friends. I was a mere novice. They triedhard to bring home to me, and make me accept, the message of Jesus, and I was a humble andrespectful listener with an open mind. At that time I naturally studied Hinduism to the best of myability and endeavoured to understand other religions.In 1903 the position was somewhat changed. Theosophist friends certainly intended to draw meinto their society, but that was with a view to getting something from me as a Hindu. Theosophicalliterature is replete with Hindu influence, and so these friends expected that I should be helpful tothem. I explained that my Samskrit study was not much to speak of, that I had not read the Hinduscriptures in the original, and that even my acquaintance with the translations was of the slightest.But being believers in #samskara# (tendencies caused by previous births) and #punarjanma#(rebirth), they assumed that I should be able to render at least some help. And so I felt like aTriton among the minnows. I started reading Swami Vivekanandas #Rajayoga# with some ofthese friends and M. N. Dvivedis #Rajayoga# with others. I had to read Patanjalis #Yoga Sutras#with one friend and the #Bhagavadgita# with quite a number. We formed a sort of Seekers Clubwhere we had regular readings. I already had faith in the Gita, which had a fascination for me.Now I realized the necessity of diving deeper into it. I had one or two translations, by means ofwhich I tried to understand the original Samskrit. I decided also to get by heart one or two versesevery day. For this purpose I employed the time of my morning ablutions. The operation took methirty-five minutes, fifteen minutes for the tooth brush and twenty for the bath. The first I used todo standing in western fashion. So on the wall opposite I struck slips of paper on which werewritten the Gita verses and referred to them now and then to help my memory. This time wasfound sufficient for memorising the daily portion and recalling the verses already learnt. Iremember having thus committed to memory thirteen chapters. But the memorising of the Gitahad to give way to other work and the creation and nurture of Satyagraha, which absorbed all mythinking time, as the latter may be said to be doing even now.What effect this reading of the Gita had on my friends only they can say, but to me the Gitabecame an infallible guide of conduct. It became my dictionary of daily reference. Just as I turnedto the English dictionary for the meanings of English words that I did not understand, I turned tothis dictionary of conduct for a ready solution of all my troubles and trials. Words like#aparigraha# (non- possession) and #samabhava# (equability) gripped me. How to cultivate andpreserve that equability was the question. How was one to treat alike insulting, insolent andcorrupt officials, co-workers of yesterday raising meaningless opposition, and men who hadalways been good to one? How was one to divest oneself of all possessions? Was not the bodyitself possession enough? Were not wife and children possessions? Was I to destroy all thecupboards of books I had? Was I to give up all I had and follow Him? Straight came the answer: I
  139. could not follow Him unless I gave up all I had. My study of English law came to my help. Snellsdiscussion of the maxims of Equity came to my memory. I understood more clearly in the light ofthe Gita teaching the implication of the word trustee. My regard for jurisprudence increased, Idiscovered in it religion. I understood the Gita teaching of non-possession to mean that those whodesired salvation should act like the trustee who, though having control over great possessions,regards not an iota of them as his own. It became clear to me as daylight that non-possessionand equability presupposed a change of heart, a change of attitude. I then wrote toRevashankarbhai to allow the insurance policy to lapse and get whatever could be recovered, orelse to regard the premiums already paid as lost, for I had become convinced that God, whocreated my wife and children as well as myself, would take care of them. To my brother, who hadbeen as father to me, I wrote explaining that I had given him all that I had saved up to thatmoment, but that henceforth he should expect nothing from me, for future savings, if any, wouldbe utilized for the benefit of the community.I could not easily make my brother understand this. In stern language he explained to me my dutytowards him. I should not, he said, aspire to be wiser than our father. I must support the family ashe did. I pointed out to him that I was doing exactly what our father had done. The meaning offamily had but to be slightly widened and the wisdom of my step would become clear.My brother gave me up and practically stopped all communication. I was deeply distressed, but itwould have been a greater distress to give up what I considered to be my duty, and I preferredthe lesser. But that did not affect my devotion to him, which remained as pure and great as ever.His great love for me was at the root of his misery. He did not so much want my money as that Ishould be well- behaved towards the family. Near the end of his life, however, he appreciated myview-point. When almost on his death-bed, he realized that my step had been right and wrote mea most pathetic letter. He apologized to me, if indeed a father may apologize to his son. Hecommended his sons to my care, to be brought up as I thought fit, and expressed his impatienceto meet me. He cabled that he would like to come to South Africa and I cabled in reply that hecould. But that was not to be. Nor could his desire as regards his sons be fulfilled. He died beforehe could start for South Africa. His sons had been brought up in the old atmosphere and couldnot change their course of life. I could not draw them to me. It was not their fault. Who can saythus far, no further, to the tide of his own nature? Who can erase the impressions with which heis born? It is idle to expect ones children and wards necessarily to follow the same course ofevolution as oneself.This instance to some extent serves to show what a terrible responsibility it is to be a parent. Chapter 83 A SACRIFICE TO VEGETARIANISMAs the ideals of sacrifice and simplicity were becoming more and more realized, consciousnesswas becoming more and more quickened in my daily life, the passion for vegetarianism as amission went on increasing. I have known only one way of carrying on missionary work, #viz#., bypersonal example and discussion with searchers for knowledge.There was in Johannesburg a vegetarian restaurant conducted by a German who believed inKuhans hydropathic treatment. I visited the restaurant myself and helped it by taking Englishfriends there. But I saw that it could not last as it was always in financial difficulties. I assisted it as
  140. much as I thought it deserved, and spent some money on it, but it had ultimately to be closeddown.Most theosophists are vegetarians more or less, and an enterprising lady belonging to thatsociety now came upon the scene with a vegetarian restaurant on a grand scale. She was fond ofart, extravagant and ignorant of accounts. Her circle of friends was fairly large. She had started ina small way, but later decided to extend the venture by taking large rooms, and asked me forhelp. I knew nothing of her finances when she thus approached me, but I took it that her estimatemust be fairly accurate. And I was in a position to accommodate her. My clients used to keeplarge sums as deposits with me. Having received the consent of one of these clients, I lent abouta thousand pounds from the amount to his credit. This client was most large-hearted and trusting.He had originally come to South Africa as an indentured labourer. He said: Give away themoney, if you like. I know nothing in these matters. I only know you. His name was Badri. Heafterwards took a prominent part in Satyagraha, and suffered imprisonment as well. So Iadvanced the loan assuming that this consent was enough.In two or three months time I came to know that the amount would not be recovered. I could illafford to sustain such a loss. There were many other purposes to which I could have applied thisamount. The loan was never repaid. But how could trusting Badri be allowed to suffer? He hadknown me only. I made good the loss.A client friend to whom I spoke about this transaction sweetly chid me for my folly.Bhai, - I had fortunately not yet become Mahatma, nor even Bapu (father) friends used to callme by the loving name of Bhai (brother)- said he, this was not for you to do. We depend uponyou in so many things. You are not going to get back this amount. I know you will never allowBadri to come to grief, for you will pay him out of your pocket, but if you go on helping your reformschemes by operating on your clients money, the poor fellows will be ruined, and you will soonbecome a beggar. But you are our trustee and must know that, if you become a beggar, all ourpublic work will come to a stop.The friend I am thankful to say, is still alive. I have not yet come across a purer man than he, inSouth Africa or anywhere else. I have known him to apologize to people and to cleanse himself,when, having happened to suspect them, he had found his suspicion to be unfounded.I saw that he had rightly warned me. For though I made good Badris loss, I should not have beenable to meet any similar loss and should have been driven to incur debt- a thing I have neverdone in my life and always abhorred. I realized that even a mans reforming zeal ought not tomake him exceed his limits. I also saw that in thus lending trust-money I had disobeyed thecardinal teaching of the Gita, #viz#, the duty of a man of equipoise to act without desire for thefruit. The error became for me a beaconlight of warning.The sacrifice offered on the altar of vegetarianism was neither intentional nor expected. It was avirtue of necessity.
  141. Chapter 84 EXPERIMENTS IN EARTH AND WATER TREATMENTWith the growing simplicity of my life, my dislike for medicines steadily increased. Whilepractising in Durban, I suffered for some time from debility and rheumatic inflammation. Dr. P. J.Mehta, who had come to see me, gave me treatment, and I got well. After that, up to the timewhen I returned to India, I do not remember having suffered from any ailment to speak of.But I used to be troubled with constipation and frequent headaches, while at Johannesburg. I keptmyself fit with occasional laxatives and a well-regulated diet. But I could hardly call myselfhealthy, and always wondered when I should get free from incubus of these laxative medicines.About this time I read of the formation of a No Breakfast Association in Manchester. Theargument of the promoters was that Englishmen ate too often and too much, that their doctorsbills were heavy because they ate until midnight, and that they should at least give up breakfast, ifthey wanted to improve this state of affairs. Though all these things could not be said of me, I feltthat the argument did partly apply in my case. I used to have three square meals daily in additionto afternoon tea. I was never a spare eater and enjoyed as many delicacies as could be had witha vegetarian and spiceless diet. I scarcely ever got up before six or seven. I therefore arguedthat, if I also dropped the morning breakfast, I might become free from headaches. So I tried theexperiment. For a few days it was rather hard, but the headaches entirely disappeared. This ledme to conclude that I was eating more than I needed.But the change was far from relieving me of constipation. I tried Kuhnes hipbaths, which gavesome relief but did not completely cure me. In the meantime the German who had a vegetarianrestaurant, or some other friend, I forget who, placed in my hands Justs Return of Nature. In thisbook I read about earth treatment. The author also advocated fresh fruit and nuts as the naturaldiet of man. I did not at once take to the exclusive fruit diet, but immediately began experiments inearth treatment, and with wonderful results. The treatment consisted in applying to the abdomena bandage of clean earth moistened with cold water and spread like a poultice on fine linen. This Iapplied at bed time, removing it during the night or in the morning, whenever, I happened to wakeup. It proved a radical cure. Since then I have tried the treatment on myself and my friends andnever had reason to regret it. In India I have not been able to try this treatment with equalconfidence. For one thing. I have never had time to settle down in one place to conduct theexperiments. But my faith in the earth and water treatment remains practically the same asbefore. Even today I give myself the earth treatment to a certain extent and recommend it to myco-workers, whenever occasion arises.Though I have had two serious illnesses in my life, I believe that man has little need to drughimself. 999 cases out of a thousand can be brought round by means of a well-regulated diet,water and earth treatment and similar household remedies. He who runs to the doctor, vaidya orhakim for every little aliment, and swallows all kinds of vegetable and mineral drugs, not onlycurtails his life, but, by becoming the slave of his body instead of remaining its master, loses self-control, and ceases to be a man.Let no one discount these observations because they are being written in a sickbed. I know thereasons for my illnesses. I am fully conscious that I alone am responsible for them, and it isbecause of that consciousnes that I have not lost patience. In fact I have thanked God for themas lessons and successfully resisted the temptation of taking numerous drugs. I know myobstinacy often tries my doctors, but they kindly bear with me and do not give me up.
  142. However, I must not digress. Before proceeding further, I should give the reader a word ofwarning. Those who purchase Justs book on the strength of this chapter should not takeeverything in it to be gospel truth. A writer almost always presents one aspect of a case, whereasevery case can be seen from no less than seven points of view, all of which are probably correctby themselves, but not correct at the same time and in the same circumstances. And then manybooks are written with a view to gaining customers and earning name and fame. Let those,therefore, who read such books as these do so with discernment, and take experiments set forth,or let them read the books with patience and digest them thoroughly before acting upon them. Chapter 85 A WARNINGI am afraid I must continue the digression until the next chapter. Along with my experiments inearth treatment, those in dietetics were also being carried on, and it may not be out of place hereto make a few observations as regards the latter, though I shall have occasion to refer to themagain later.I may not, now or hereafter, enter into a detailed account of the experiments in dietetics, for I didso in a series of Gujarati articles which appeared years ago in Indian Opinion, and which wereafterwards published in the form of a book popularly known in English as A Guide to Health.Among my little books this has been the most widely read alike in the East and in the West, athing that I have not yet been able to understand. It was written for the benefit of the readers ofIndian Opinion. But I know that the booklet has profoundly influenced the lives of many, both inthe East and in the West, who have never seen Indian Opinion. For they have beencorresponding with me on the subject. It has therefore appeared necessary to say somethinghere about the booklet, for though I see no reason to alter the views set forth in it, yet I havemade certain radical changes in my actual practice, of which all readers of the book do not know,and of which, I think, they should be informed.The booklet was written, like all my other writings, with a spiritual end, which has always inspiredevery one of my actions, and therefore it is a matter for deep distress to me that I am unabletoday to practise some of the theories propounded in the book.It is my firm conviction that man need take no milk at all, beyond the mothers milk that he takesas a baby. His diet should consist of nothing but sunbaked fruits and nuts. He can secure enoughnourishment both for the tissues and the nerves from fruits like grapes and nuts like almonds.Restraint of the sexual and other passions becomes easy for a man who lives on such food. Myco-workers and I have seen by experience that there is much truth in the Indian proverb that as aman eats, so shall he become. These views have been set out elaborately in the book.But unfortunately in India I have found myself obliged to deny some of my theories in practice.Whilst I was engaged on the recruiting campaign in Kheda, an error in diet laid me low, and I wasat deaths door. I tried in vain to rebuild a shattered constitution without milk. I sought the help ofthe doctors, vaidyas and scientists whom I knew, to recommend a substitute for milk. Somesuggested mung water, some mowhra oil, some almond-milk. I wore out my body inexperimenting on these, but nothing could help me to leave the sickbed. The vaidyas read versesto me from Charaka to show that religious scruples about diet have no place in therapeutics. So
  143. they could not be expected to help me to continue to live without milk. And how could those whorecommended beef-tea and brandy without hesitation help me to persevere with a milkless diet?I might not take cows or buffalos milk, as I was bound by a vow. The vow of course meant thegiving up of all milks, but as I had mother cows and mother buffalos only in mind when I took thevow, and as I wanted to live, I somehow beguiled myself into emphasizing the letter of the vowand decided to take goats milk. I was fully conscious, when I started taking mother goats milk,that the spirit of my vow was destroyed.But the idea of leading a campaign against the Rowlatt Act had possessed me. And with it grewthe desire to live. Consequently one of the greatest experiments in my life came to a stop.I know it is argued that the soul has nothing to do with what one eats or drinks, as the soul neithereats nor drinks; that it is not what you put inside from without, but what you express outwardlyfrom within, that matters. There is no doubt some force in this. But rather than examine thisreasoning. I shall content myself with merely declaring my firm conviction that, for the seeker whowould live in fear of God and who would see Him face to face, restraint in diet both as to quantityand quality is as essential as restraint in thought and speech.In a matter, however, where my theory has failed me, I should not only give the information, butissue a grave warning against adopting it. I would therefore urge those who, on the strength ofthe theory propounded by me, may have given up milk, not to persist in the experiment, unlessthey find it beneficial in every way, or unless they are advised by experienced physicians. Up tonow my experience here has shown me that for those with a weak digestion and for those whoare confined to bed there is no light and nourishing diet equal to that of milk.I should be greatly obliged if anyone with experience in this line, who happens to read thischapter, would tell me, if he has known from experience, and not from reading, of a vegetablesubstitute for milk, which is equally nourishing and digestible. Chapter 86 A TUSSLE WITH POWERTo turn now to the Asiatic Department.Johannesburg was the stronghold of the Asiatic officers. I had been observing that, far fromprotecting the Indians, Chinese and others, these officers were grinding them down. Every day Ihad complaints like this: The rightful ones are not admitted, whilst those who have no right aresmuggled in on payment of 100. If you will not remedy this state of things, who will? I shared thefeeling. If I did not succeed in stamping out this evil, I should be living in the Transvaal in vain.So I began to collect evidence, and as soon as I had gathered a fair Amount, I approached thePolice Commissioner. He appeared to be a just man. Far from giving me the cold shoulder, helistened to me patiently and asked me to show him all the evidence in my possession. Heexamined the witnesses himself and was satisfied, but he knew as well as I that it was difficult inSouth Africa to get a white jury to convict a white offender against coloured men. But, said he,
  144. let us try at any rate. It is not proper either, to let such criminals go scot-free for fear of the juryacquitting them, I must get them arrested. I assure you I shall leave no stone unturned.I did not need the assurance. I suspected quite a number of officers, but as I had nounchallengeable evidence against them all, warrants of arrest were issued against the two aboutwhose guilt I had not the slightest doubt.My movements could never be kept secret. Many knew that I was going to the PoliceCommissioner practically daily. The two officers against whom warrants had been issued hadspies more or less efficient. They used to patrol my office and report my movements to theofficers. I must admit, however, that these officers were so bad that they could not have hadmany spies. Had the Indians and the Chinese not helped me, they would never have beenarrested.One of these absconded. The Police Commissioner obtained an extradition warrant against himand got him arrested and brought to the Transvaal. They were tried, and although there wasstrong evidence against them, and in spite of the fact that the jury had evidence of one of themhaving absconded, both were declared to be not guilty and acquitted.I was sorely disappointed. The Police Commissioner also was very sorry. I got disgusted with thelegal profession. The very intellect became an abomination to me inasmuch as it could beprostituted for screening crime.However, the guilt of both these officers was so patent that in spite of their acquittal theGovernment could not harbour them. Both were cashiered, and the Asiatic department becamecomparatively clean, and the Indian community was somewhat reassured.The event enhanced my prestige and brought me more business. The bulk, though not all, of thehundreds of pounds that the community was monthly squandering in peculation, was saved. Allcould not be saved, for the dishonest still plied their trade. But it was now possible for the honestman to preserve his honesty.I must say that, though these officers were so bad, I had nothing against them personally. Theywere aware of this themselves, and when in their straits they approached me, I helped them too.They had a chance of getting employed by the Johannesburg Municipality in case I did notoppose the proposal. A friend of theirs saw me in this connection and I agreed not to thwart them,and they succeeded.This attitude of mine put the officials with whom I came in contact perfectly at ease, and though Ihad often to fight with their department and use strong language, they remained quite friendlywith me. I was not then quite conscious that such behaviour was part of my nature. I learnt laterthat it was an essential part of Satyagraha, and an attribute of ahimsa.Man and his deed are two distinct things. Whereas a good deed should call forth approbation anda wicked deed disapprobation, the doer of the deed, whether good or wicked always deservesrespect or pity as the case may be. Hate the sin and not the sinner is a precept which, thougheasy enough to understand, is rarely practised, and that is why the poison of hatred spreads inthe world.This ahimsa is the basis of the search for truth. I am realizing every day that the search is vainunless it is founded on ahimsa as the basis. It is quite proper to resist and attack a system, but toresist and attack its author is tantamount to resisting and attacking oneself. For we are all tarredwith the same brush, and are children of one and the same Creator, and as such the divine
  145. powers within us are infinite. To slight a single human being is to slight those divine powers, andthus to harm not only that being but with him the whole world. Chapter 87 A SACRED RECOLLECTION AND PENANCEA variety of incidents in my life have conspired to bring me in close contact with people ofmany creeds and many communities, and my experience with all of them warrants the statementthat I have known no distinction between relatives and strangers, countrymen and foreigners,white and coloured, Hindus and Indians of other faiths, whether Musalmans, Parsis, Christians orJews. I may say that my heart has been incapable of making any such distinctions. I cannot claimthis as a special virtue, as it is in my very nature. rather than a result of any effort on my part,whereas in the case of ahimsa (non- violence), brahmacharya (celibacy), aparigraha (non-possession) and other cardinal virtues, I am fully conscious of a continuous striving for theircultivation.When I was practising in Durban, my office clerks often stayed with me, and there were amongthem Hindus and Christians, or to describe them by their provinces, Gujaratis and Tamilians. I donot recollect having ever regarded them as anything but my kith and kin. I treated them asmembers of my family, and had unpleasantness with my wife if ever she stood in the way of mytreating them as such. One of the clerks was a Christian, born of Panchama parents.The house was built after the Western model and the rooms rightly had no outlets for dirty water.Each room had therefore chamber-pots. Rather than have these cleaned by a servant or asweeper, my wife or I attended to them. The clerks who made themselves completely at homewould naturally clean their own pots, but the Christian clerk was a newcomer, and it was our dutyto attend to his bedroom. My wife managed the pots of the others, but to clean those used by onewho had been a Panchama seemed to her to be the limit, and we fell out. She could not bear thepots being cleaned by me, neither did she like doing it herself. Even today I can recall the pictureof her chiding me, her eyes red with anger, and pearl drops streaming down her cheeks, as shedescended the ladder, pot in hand. But I was a cruelly kind husband. I regarded myself as herteacher, and so harassed her out of my blind love for her.I was far from being satisfied by her merely carrying the pot. I would have her do it cheerfully. So Isaid, raising my voice: I will not stand this nonsense in my house.The words pierced her like an arrow.She shouted back: Keep your house to yourself and let me go. I forgot myself, and the spring ofcompassion dried up in me. I caught her by the hand, dragged the helpless woman to the gate,which was just opposite the ladder, and proceeded to open it with the intention of pushing her out.The tears were running down her cheeks in torrents, and she cried: Have you no sense ofshame? Must you so far forget yourself? Where am I to go? I have no parents or relatives here toharbour me. Being your wife, you think I must put up with your cuffs and kicks? For Heavenssake behave yourself, and shut the gate. Let us not be found making scenes like this!
  146. I put on a brave face, but was really ashamed and shut the gate. If my wife could not leave me,neither could I leave her. We have had numerous bickerings, but the end has always been peacebetween us. The wife, with her matchless powers of endurance, has always been the victor.Today I am in a position to narrate the incident with some detachment, as it belongs to a periodout of which I have fortunately emerged. I am no longer a blind, infatuated husband, I am no moremy wifes teacher. Kasturba can, if she will, be as unpleasant to me today, as I used to be to herbefore. We are tried friends, the one no longer regarding the other as the object of just. She hasbeen a faithful nurse throughout my illnesses, serving without any thought of reward.The incident in question occurred in 1898, when I had no conception of brahmacharya. It was atime when I thought that the wife was the object of her husbands lust, born to do her husbandsbehest, rather than a helpmate, a comrade and a partner in the husbands joys and sorrows.It was in the year 1900 that these ideas underwent a radical transformation, and in 1906 they tookconcrete shape. But of this I propose to speak in its proper place. Suffice it to say that with thegradual disappearance in me of the carnal appetite, my domestic life became and is becomingmore and more peaceful, sweet and happy.Let no one conclude from this narrative of a sacred recollection that we are by any means anideal couple, or that there is a complete identity of ideals between us. Kasturba herself does notperhaps know whether she has any ideals independently of me. It is likely that many of my doingshave not her approval even today. We never discuss them, I see no good in discussing them. Forshe was educated neither by her parents nor by me at the time when I ought to have done it. Butshe is blessed with one great quality to a very considerable degree, a quality which most Hinduwives possess in some measure. And it is this; willingly or unwillingly, consciously orunconsciously, she has considered herself blessed in following in my footsteps, and has neverstood in the way of my endeavour to lead a life of restraint. Though, therefore, there is a widedifference between us intellectually, I have always had the feeling that ours is a life ofcontentment, happiness and progress. Chapter 88 INTIMATE EUROPEAN CONTACTST his chapter has brought me to a stage where it becomes necessary for me to explain to thereader how this story is written from week to week.When I began writing it, I had no definite plan before me. I have no diary or documents on whichto base the story of my experiments. I write just as the Spirit moves me at the time of writing. I donot claim to know definitely that all conscious thought and action on my part is directted by theSpirit. But on an examination of the greatest steps that I have taken in my life, as also of thosethat may be regarded as the least, I think it will not be improper to say that all of them weredirected by the Spirit.I have not seen Him, neither have I known Him. I have made the worlds faith in God my own, andas my faith is ineffaceable , I regard that faith as amounting to experience. However, as it may besaid that to describe faith as experience is to tamper with truth, it may perhaps be more correct tosay that I have no word for characterizing my belief in God.
  147. It is perhaps now somewhat easy to understand why I believe that I am writing story as the Spiritprompts me. When I began the last chapter I gave it the heading I have given to this, but as I waswriting it, I realized that before I narrated my experiences with Europeans, I must write somethingby way of a preface. This I did not and altered the heading.Now again, as I start on this chapter, I find myself confronted with a fresh problem. What things tomention and what to omit regarding the English friends of whom I am about to write is a seriousproblem. If things that are relevant are omitted, truth will be dimmed. And it is difficult to decidestraightway what is relevant, when I am not even sure about the relevancy of writing this story.I understand more clearly today what I read long ago about the inadequacy of all autobiographyas history. I know that I do not set down in this story all that I remember. Who can say how muchI must give and how much omit in the interests of truth? And what would be the value in a court oflaw of the inadequate ex parte evidence being tendered by me of certain events in my life? Ifsome busybody were to cross-examine me on the chapters already written, he could probablyshed much more light on them, and if it were a hostile critics cross-examination, he might evenflatter himself for having shown up the hollowness of many of my pretensions.I, therefore, wonder for a moment whether it might not be proper to stop writing these chapters.But so long as there is no prohibition from the voice within, I must continue the writing. I mustfollow the sage maxim that nothing once begun should be abandoned unless it is proved to bemorally wrong.I am not writing the autobiography to please critics. Writing it is itself one of the experiments withtruth. One of its objects is certainly to provide some comfort and food for reflection for my co-workers. Indeed I started writing it in compliance with their wishes. It might not have been written,if Jeramdas and Swami Anand had not persisted in their suggestion. If, therefore, I am wrong inwriting the autobiography, they must share the blame.But to take up the subject indicated in the heading. Just as I had Indians living with me asmembers of my family, so had I English friends living with me in Durban. Not that all who livedwith me liked it. But I persisted in having them. Nor was I wise in every case. I had some bitterexperiences, but these included both Indians and Europeans. And I do not regret theexperiences. In spite of them, and in spite of the inconvenience and worry that I have oftencaused to friends, I have not altered my conduct and friends have kindly borne with me.Whenever my contacts with strangers have been painful to friends,I have not hesitated to blamethem. I hold that believers who have to see the same God in others that they see in themselves,must be able to live amongst all with sufficient detachment. And the ability to live thus can becultivated, not by fighting shy of unsought opportunities for such contacts, but by hailing them in aspirit of service and withal keeping oneself unaffected by them.Though, therefore, my house was full when the Boer War broke out, I received two Englishmenwho had come from Johannesburg. Both were theosophists, one of them being Mr. Kitchin, ofwhom we shall have occasion to know more later. These friends often cost my wife bitter tears.Unfortunately she has had many such trials on my account. This was the first time that I hadEnglish friends to live with me as intimately as members of my family. I had stayed in Englishhouses during my days in England, but there I conformed to their ways of living, and it was moreor less like living in a boarding house. Here it was quite the contrary. The English friends becamemembers of the family. They adopted the Indian style in many matters. Though the appointmentsin the house were in the Western fashion, the internal life was mostly Indian. I do rememberhaving had some difficulty in keeping them as members of the family, but I can certainly say thatthey had no difficulty in making themselves perfectly at home under my roof. In Johannesburgthese contacts developed further than in Durban.
  148. Chapter 89 EUROPEAN CONTACTS (Contd.)In Johannesburg I had at one time as many as four Indian clerks, who were perhaps more likemy sons than clerks. But even these were not enough for my work. It was impossible to dowithout typewriting, which, among us, if at all, only I knew. I taught it to two of the clerks, but theynever came up to the mark because of their poor English. And then one of these I wanted to trainas an accountant. I could not get out anyone from Natal, for nobody could enter the Transvaalwithout a permit, and for my own personal convenience I was not prepared to ask a favour of thePermit Officer.I was at my wits end. Arrears were fast mounting up, so much so that it seemed impossible forme, however much I might try, to cope with professional and public work. I was quite willing toengage a European clerk, but I was not sure to get a white man or woman to serve a colouredman like myself. However I decided to try. I approached a typewriters agent whom I knew, andasked him to get me a stenographer. There were girls available, and he promised to try to securethe services of one. He came across a Scotch girl called Miss Dick, who had just come fresh fromScotland. She had no objection to earning an honest livelihood, wherever available, and she wasin need. So the agent sent her on to me. She immediately prepossessed me.Dont you mind serving under an Indian? I asked her.Not at all, was her firm reply.What salary do you expect?Would £ 17/10 be too much?Not too much if you will give me the work I want from you. When can you join?This moment if you wish.I was very pleased and straightaway started dictating letters to her.Before very long she became more a daughter or a sister to me than a mere stenotypist. I hadscarcely any reason to find fault with her work. She was often entrusted with the management offunds amounting to thousands of pounds, and she was in charge of account books. She won mycomplete confidence, but what was perhaps more, she confided to me her innermost thoughtsand feelings. She sought my advice in the final choice of her husband, and I had the privilege togive her away in marriage. As soon as Miss Dick became Mrs. Macdonald, she had to leave me,but even after her marriage she did not fail to respond, whenever under pressure I made a callupon her.But a permanent stenotypist was now needed in her place, and I was fortunate in getting anothergirl. She was Miss Schlesin, introduced to me by Mr. Kallenbach, whom the reader will know indue course. She is at present a teacher in one of the High School in the Transvaal. She wasabout seventeen when she came to me. Some of her idiosyncrasies were at times too much forMr. Kallenbach and me. She had come less to work as a stenotypist than to gain experience.Colour prejudice was foreign to her temperament. She seemed to mind neither age norexperience. She would not hesitate even to the point of insulting a man and telling him to his face
  149. what she thought of him. Her impetuosity often landed me in difficulties, but her open andguileless temperament removed them as soon as they were created. I have often signed withoutrevision letters typed by her, as I considered her English to be better than mine, and had thefullest confidence in her loyalty.Her sacrifice was great. For a considerable period she did not draw more than £ 6, and refusedever to receive more than £ 10 a month. When I urged her to take more, she would give me ascolding and say, I am not here to draw a salary you. I am here because I like to work with youand I like your ideals.She had once an occasion to take £ 40 from me, but she insisted on having it as a loan, andrepaid the full amount last year. Her courage was equal to her sacrifice. She is one of the fewwomen I have been privileged to come across, with a character as clear as crystal and couragethat would shame a warrior. She is a grown up woman now. I do not know her mind quite as wellas when she was with me, but my contact with this young lady will ever be for me a sacredrecollection. I would therefore be false to truth if I kept back what I know about her.She knew neither night nor day in toiling for the cause. She ventured out on errands in thedarknes of the night all by herself, and angrily scouted any suggestion of an escort. Thousands ofstalwart Indians looked up to her for guidance. When during the Satyagraha days almost everyone of the leaders was in jail, she led the movement single- handed. She had the management ofthousands, a tremendous amount of correspondence, and Indian Opinion in her hands, but shenever wearied.I could go on without end writing thus about Miss Schlesin, but I shall conclude this chapter withciting Gokhales estimate of her. Gokhale knew every one of my co-workers. He was pleased withmany of them, and would often give his opinion of them. He gave the first place to Miss Schlesinamongst all the Indian and European co-workers. I have rarely met with the sacrifice, the purityand the fearlessness I have seen in Miss Schlesin, said he. Amongst your co-workers, she takesthe first place in my estimation. Chapter 90 INDIAN OPINIONBefore I proceed with the other intimate European contacts, I must note two or three items ofimportance. One of the contacts, however, should be mentioned at once. The appointment ofMiss Dick was not enough for my purpose. I needed more assistance. I have in the earlierchapters referred to Mr. Ritch. I knew him well. He was manager in a commercial firm. Heapproved my suggestion of leaving the firm and getting articled under me, and he considerablylightened my burden.About this time Sjt. Madanjit approached me with a proposal to start Indian Opinion and soughtmy advice. He had already been conducting a press, and I approved of his proposal. The journalwas launched in 1904, and Sjt. Mansukhlal Naazar became the first editor. But I had to bear thebrunt of the work, having for most of the time to be practically in charge of the journal. Not thatSjt. Mansukhlal could not carry it on. He had been doing a fair amount of journalism whilst inIndia, but he would never venture to write on intricate South African problems so long as I wasthere. He had the greatest confidence in my discernment, and therefore threw on me the
  150. responsibility of attending to the editorial columns. The journal has been until this day a weekly, Inthe beginning it used to be issued in Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil and English. I saw, however, that theTamil and Hindi sections were a make-believe. They did not serve the purpose for which theywere intended, so I discontinued them as I even felt that there would be a certain amount ofdeception involved in their continuance.I had no notion that I should have to invest any money in this journal, but I soon discovered that itcould not go on without my financial help. The Indians and the Europeans both knew that, thoughI was not avowedly the editor of Indian Opinion, I was virtually responsible for its conduct. It wouldnot have mattered if the journal had never been started, but to stop it after it had once beenlaunched would have been both a loss and a disgrace. So I kept on pouring out my money, untilultimately I was practically sinking all my savings in it. I remember a time when I had to remit £ 75each month.But after all these years I feel that the journal has served the community well. It was neverintended to be a commercial concern. So long as it was under my control, the changes in thejournal were indicative of changes in my life. Indian Opinion in those days, like Young India andNavajivan today, was a mirror of part of my life. Week after week I poured out my soul in itscolumns, and expounded the principles and practice of Satyagraha as I understood it. During tenyears, that is, until 1914, excepting the intervals of my enforced rest in prison, there was hardlyan issue of Indian Opinion without an article from me. I cannot recall a word in those articles setdown without thought or deliberation, or a word of conscious exaggeration, or anything merely toplease. Indeed the journal became for me a training in self-restraint, and for friends a mediumthrough which to keep in touch with my thoughts. The critic found very little to which he couldobject. In fact the tone of Indian Opinion compelled the critic to put a curb on his own pen.Satyagraha would probably have been impossible without Indian Opinion. The readers lookedforward to it for a trustworthy account of the Satyagraha campaign as also of the real condition ofIndians in South Africa. For me it became a means for the study of human nature in all its castsand shades, as I always aimed at establishing an intimate and clean bond between the editor andthe readers. I was inundated with letters containing the outpourings of my correspondents hearts.They were friendly, critical or bitter, according to the temper of the writer. It was a fine eduction forme to study, digest and answer all this correspondence. It was as though the community thoughtaudibly through this correspondence with me. It made me throughly understand the responsibilityof a journalist, and the hold I secured in this way over the community made the furure campaignworkable, dignified and irresistible.In the very first month of Indian Opinion, I realized that the sole aim of journalism should beservice. The newspaper press is a great power, but just as an unchained torrent of watersubmerges whole countrysides and devastates crops, even so an uncontrolled pen serves but todestroy. If the control is from without, it proves more poisonous than want of control. It can beprofitable only when exercised from within. If this line of reasoning is correct, how many of thejournals in the world would stand the test? But who would stop those that are useless? And whoshould be the judge? The useful and the useless must, like good and evil generally, go ontogether, and man must make his choice.
  151. Chapter 91 COOLIE LOCATIONS OR GHETTOS?Some of the classes which render us the greatest social service, but which we Hindus havechosen to regard as untouchables, are relegated to remote quarters of a town or a village, calledin Gujarati dhedvado, and the name has acquired a bad odour. Even so in Christian Europe theJews were once untouchables and the quarters that were assigned to them had the offensivename of ghettoes. In a similar way today we have become the untouchables of South Africa. Itremains to be seen how far the sacrifice of Andrews and the magic wand of Sastri succeed inrehabilitating us.The ancient Jews regarded themselves as the chosen people of God, to the exclusion of allothers, with the result that their descendants were visited with a strange and even unjustretribution. Almost in a similar way the Hindus have considered themselves Aryas or civilized, anda section of their own kith and kin as Anaryas or untouchables, with the result that a strange, ifunjust, nemesis is being visited not only upon the Hindus in South Africa, but the Musalmans andParsis as well, inasmuch as they belong to the same country and have the same colour as theirHindu brethren.The reader will have now realized to some extent the meaning of the word locations with which Ihave headed this chapter. In South Africa we have acquired the odious name of coolies. Theword coolie in India means only a porter or hired workman, but in South Africa it has acontemptuous connotation. It means what a pariah or an untouchable means to us, and thequarters assigned to the coolies are known as coolie locations. Johannesburg had one suchlocation, but unlike other places with locations where the Indians had tenancy rights, in theJohannesburg location the Indians had acquired their plots on a lease of 99 years. People weredensely packed in the location, the area of which never increased with the increase in population.Beyond arranging to clean the latrines in the location in a haphazard way, the Municipality didnothing to provide any sanitary facilities, much less good roads or lights. It was hardly likely that itwould safeguard its sanitation, when it was indifferent to the welfare of the residents. These weretoo ignorant of the rules of municipal sanitation and hygiene to do without the help or supervisionof the Municipality. If those who went there had all been Robinson Crusoes, theirs would havebeen a different story. But we do not know of a single emigrant colony of Robinson Crusoes in theworld. Usually people migrate abroad in search of wealth and trade, but the bulk of the Indianswho went to South Africa were ignorant, pauper agriculturists, who needed all the care andprotection that could be given them. The traders and educated Indians who followed them werevery few.The criminal negligence of the Municipality and the ignorance of the Indian settlers thus conspiredto render the location thoroughly insanitary. The Municipality, far from doing anything to improvethe condition of the location, used the insanitation, caused by their own neglect, as a pretext fordestroying the location, and for that purpose obtained from the local legislature authority todispossess the settlers. This was the condition of things when I settled in Johannesburg.The settlers, having proprietory rights in their land, were naturally entitled to compensation. Aspecial tribunal was appointed to try the land acquisition cases. If the tenant was not prepared toaccept the offer of the Municipality, he had a right to appeal to the tribunal, and if the lattersaward exceeded the Municipalitys offer, the Municipality had to bear the costs.Most of the tenants engaged me as their legal adviser. I had no desire to make money out ofthese cases, so I told the tenants that I should be satisfied with whatever costs the tribunal
  152. awarded, in case they won, and a fee of £ 10 on every lease, irrespective of the result of thecase. I also told them that I proposed to set apart half of the money paid by them for the buildingof a hospital or similar institution for the poor. This naturally pleased them all.Out of about 70 cases only was lost. So the fees amounted to a fairly big figure. But IndianOpinion was there with its persistent claim and devoured, so far as I can recollect, a sum of £1,600. I had worked hard for these cases. The clients always surrounded me. Most of them wereoriginally indentured labourers from Bihar and its neighbourhood and from South India. For theredress of their peculiar grievances they had formed an association of their own, separate fromthat of the free Indian merchants and traders. Some of them were open- hearted, liberal men andhad high character. Their leaders were Sjt. Jairamsing, the president, and Sjt. Badri, who was asgood as the president. Both of them are now no more. They were exceedingly helpful to me. Sjt.Badri came in very close contact with me and took a prominent part in Satyagraha. Throughthese and other friends I came in intimate contact with numerous Indian settlers from North andSouth India. I became more their brother than a mere legal adviser, and shared in all their privateand public sorrows and hardships.It may be of some interest to know how the Indians used to name me. Abdulla Sheth refused toaddress me as Gandhi. None, fortunately, ever insulted me by calling or regarding me as saheb.Abdulla Sheth hit upon a fine appellation-bhai, i.e., brother. Others followed him and continued toaddress me as bhai until the moment I left when it was used by the ex-indentured Indians. Chapter 92 THE BLACK PLAGUE - IThe Indians were not removed from the location as soon as the Municipality secured itsownership. It was necessary to find the residents suitable new quarters before dislodging them,but as the Municipality could not easily do this, the Indians were suffered to stay in the samedirty location, with this difference that their condition became worse than before. Having ceasedto be proprietors they became tenants of the Municipality, with the result that their surroundingsbecame more insanitary than ever. When they were proprietors, they had to maintain some sortof cleanliness, if only for fear of the law. The Municipality had no such fear! The number oftenants increased, and with them the squalor and the disorder.While the Indians were fretting over this state of things, there was a sudden outbreak of the blackplague, also called the pneumonic plague, more terrible and fatal than the bubonic.Fortunately it was not the location but one of the gold mines in the vicinity of Johannesburg thatwas responsible for the outbreak. The workers in this mine were for the most part negroes, forwhose cleanliness their white employers were solely responsible. There were a few Indians alsoworking in connection with the mine, twenty-three of whom suddenly caught the infection, andreturned one evening to their quarters in the location with an acute attack of the plague. Sjt.Madanjit, who was then canvassing subscribers for Indian Opinion and realizing subscriptions,happened to be in the location at this moment. He was a remarkably fearless man. His heart weptto see these victims of the scourage, and he sent a pencil-note to me to the following effect:There has been a sudden outbreak of the black plague. You must come immediately and takeprompt measures, otherwise we must be prepared for dire consequences. Please comeimmediately.
  153. Sjt. Madanjit bravely broke open the lock of a vacant house, and put all the patients there. Icycled to the location, and wrote to the Town Clerk to inform him of the circumstances in whichwe had taken possession of the house.Dr. William Godfrey, who was practising in Johannesburg, ran to the rescue as soon as he gotthe news, and became both nurse and doctor to the patients. But twenty-three patients weremore than three of us could cope with.It is my faith, based on experience, that if ones heart is pure, calamity brings in its train men andmeasures to fight it. I had at that time four Indians in my office Sjts. Kalyandas, Maneklal,Gunvantrai Desai and another whose name I cannot recollect. Kalyandas had been entrusted tome by his father. In South Africa I have rarely come across anyone more obliging and willing torender implicit obedience than Kalyandas. Fortunately he was unmarried then, and I did nothesitate to impose on him duties involving risks, however great Maneklal I had secured inJohannesburg. He too, so far as I can remember, was unmarried. So I decided to sacrifice all four- call them clerks, co-workers or sons. There was no need at all to consult Kalyandas. The othersexpressed their readiness as soon as they were asked. Where you are, we will also be, was theirshort and sweet reply.Mr. Ritch had a large family. He was ready to take the plunge, but I prevented him. I had not theheart to expose him to the risk. So he attended to the work outside the danger zone.It was a terrible night - that night of vigil and nursing. I had nursed a number of patients before,but never any attacked by the black plague. Dr. Godfreys pluck proved infectious. There was notmuch nursing required. To give them their doses of medicine, to attend to their wants, to keepthem and their beds clean and tidy, and to cheer them up was all that we had to do.The indefatigable zeal and fearlessness with which the youths worked rejoiced me beyondmeasure. One could understand the bravery of Dr. Godfrey and of an experienced man like Sjt.Madanjit. But the spirit of these callow youths!So far as I can recollect, we pulled all the patients through that night.But the whole incident, apart from its pathos, is of such absorbing interest and, for me, of suchreligious value, that I must devote to it at least two more chapters. Chapter 93 THE BLACK PLAGUE - IIThe Town Clerk expressed his gratitude to me for having taken charge of the vacant house andthe patients. He frankly confessed that the Town Council had no immediate means to cope withsuch an emergency, but promised that they would render all the help in their power. Onceawakened to a sense of their duty, the Municipality made no delay in taking prompt measures.The next day they placed a vacant godown at my disposal, and suggested that the patients beremoved there, but the Municipality did not undertake to clean the premises. The building wasunkempt and unclean. We cleaned it up ourselves, raised a few beds and other necessariesthrough the offices of charitable Indians, and improvised a temporary hospital. The Municipality
  154. lent the services of a nurse, who came with brandy and other hospital equipment. Dr. Godfrey stillremained in charge.The nurse was a kindly lady and would fain have attended to the patients, but we rarely allowedher to touch them, lest she should catch the contagion.We had instructions to give the patients frequent doses of brandy. The nurse even asked us totake it for precaution, just as she was doing herself. But none of us would touch it. I had no faithin its beneficial effect even for the patients. With the permission of Dr. Godfrey, I put threepatients, who were prepared to do without brandy, under the earth treatment, applying wet earthbandages to their heads and chests. Two of these were saved. The other twenty died in thegodown.Meanwhile the Municipality was busy taking other measures. There was a lazaretto forcontagious diseases about seven miles from Johannesburg. The two surviving patients wereremoved to tents near the lazaretto, and arrangements were made for sending any fresh casesthere. We were thus relieved of our work.In the course of a few days we learnt that the good nurse had an attack and immediatelysuccumbed. It is impossible to say how the two patients were saved and how we remainedimmune, but the experience enhanced my faith in earth treatment, as also my scepticism of theefficacy of brandy, even as a medicine. I know that neither this faith nor this scepticism is basedupon any solid grounds, but I still retain the impression which I then received, and have thereforethought it necessary to mention it here.On the outbreak of the plague, I had addressed a strong letter to the press, holding theMunicipality guilty of negligence after the location came into its possession and responsible forthe outbreak of the plague itself. This letter secured me Mr. Henry Polak, and was partlyresponsible for the friendship of the late Rev. Joseph Doke.I have said in an earlier chapter that I used to have my meals at a vegetarian restaurant. Here Imet Mr. Albert West. We used to meet in this restaurant every evening and go out walking afterdinner. Mr. West was a partner in a small printing concern. He read my letter in the press aboutthe outbreak of the plague and, not finding me in the restaurant, felt uneasy.My co-workers and I had reduced our diet since the outbreak, as I had long made it a rule to goon a light diet during epidemics. In these days I had therefore given up my evening dinner. Lunchalso I would finish before the other guests arrived. I knew the proprietor of the restaurant verywell, and I had informed him that, as I was engaged in nursing the plague patients, I wanted toavoid the contact of friends as much as possible.Not finding me in the restaurant for a day or two, Mr. West knocked at my door early one morningjust as I was getting ready to go out for a walk. As I opened the door Mr. West said: I did not findyou in the restaurant and was really afraid lest something should have happened to you. So Idecided to come and see you in the morning in order to make sure of finding you at home. Well,here I am at your disposal. I am ready to help in nursing the patients. You know that I have noone depending on me.I expressed my gratitude, and without taking even a second to think, replied: I will not have youas a nurse. If there are no more cases, we shall be free in a day or two. There is one thinghowever.Yes, what is it?
  155. Could you take charge of the Indian Opinion press at Durban? Mr. Madanjit is likely to beengaged here, and someone is needed at Durban. If you could go, I should feel quite relieved onthat score.You know that I have a press. Most probably I shall be able to go, but may I give my final reply inthe evening? We shall talk it over during our evening walk.I was delighted. We had the talk. He agreed to go. Salary was no consideration to him, as moneywas not his motive, But a salary £10 per month and a part of the profits, if any, was fixed up. Thevery next day Mr. West left for Durban by the evening mail, entrusting me with the recovery of hisdues. From that day until the time I left the shores of South Africa, he remained a partner of myjoys and sorrows.Mr. West belonged to a peasant family in Louth (Lincolnshire). He had an ordinary schooleducation, but had learnt a good deal in the school of experience and by dint of self-help. I havealways known him to be a pure, sober, god-fearing, humane Englishman.We shall know more of him and his family in the chapters to follow. Chapter 94 LOCATION IN FLAMESThough my co-workers and I were relieved of the charge of the patients, there remained manythings arising out of the black plague still to be dealt with.I have referred to the negligence of the Municipality regarding the location. But it was wide awakeso far as the health of its white citizens was concerned. It had spent large amounts for thepreservation of their health and now it poured forth money like water in order to stamp out theplague. In spite of the many sins of omission and commission against the Indians that I had laidat the door of the Municipality, I could not help commending its solicitude for the white citizens,and I rendered it as much help as I could in its laudable efforts. I have an impression that, if I hadwithheld my co-operation, the task would have been more difficult for the Municipality, and that itwould not have hesitated to use armed force and do its worst.But all that was averted. The Municipal authorities were pleased at the Indians behaviour, andmuch of the future work regarding plague measures was simplified. I used all the influence I couldcommand with the Indians to make them submit to the requirements of the Municipality. It was farfrom easy for the Indians to go all that length, but I do not remember anyone having resisted myadvice.The location was put under a strong guard, passage in and out being made impossible withoutpermission. My co-workers and I had free permits of entry and exit. The decision was to make thewhole location population vacate, and live under canvas for three weeks in an open plain aboutthirteen miles from Johannesburg, and then to set fire to the location. To settle down undercanvas with provisions and other necessaries was bound to take some time, and a guard becamenecessary during the interval.
  156. The people were in a terrible fright, but my constant presence was a consolation to them. Many ofthe poor people used to hoard their scanty savings underground. This had to be unearthed. Theyhad no bank, they knew none. I became their banker. Streams of money poured into my office. Icould not possibly charge any fees for my labours in such a crisis. I coped with the worksomehow. I knew my bank manager very well. I told him that I should have to deposit thesemoneys with him. The banks were by no means anxious to accept large amounts of copper andsilver. There was also the fear of bank clerks refusing to touch money coming from a plague-affected area. But the manager accommodated me in every way. It was decided to disinfect allthe money before sending it to the bank. So far as I can remember, nearly sixty thousand poundswere thus deposited. I advised such of the people as had enough money to place it as fixeddeposit, and they accepted the advice. The result was some of them became accustomed toinvest their money in banks.The location residents were removed by special train to Klipspruit Farm near Johannesburg,where they were supplied with provisions by the Municipality at public expense. This city undercanvas looked like a military camp. The people who were unaccustomed to this camp life weredistressed and astonished over the arrangements; but they did not have to put up with anyparticular inconvenience. I used to cycle out to them daily. Within twenty-four hours of their staythey forgot all their misery and began to live merrily. Whenever I went there I found them enjoyingthemselves with song and mirth. Three weeks stay in the open air evidently improved theirhealth.So far as I recollect, the location was put to the flames on the very next day after its evacuation.The Municipality showed not the slightest inclination to save anything from the conflagration.About this very time, and for the same reason, the Municipality burnt down all its timber in themarket, and sustained a loss of some ten thousand pounds. The reason for this drastic step wasthe discovery of some dead rats in the market.The Municipality had to incur heavy expenditure, but it successfully arrested the further progressof the plague, and the city once more breathed freely. Chapter 95 THE MAGIC SPELL OF A BOOKThe black plague enhanced my influence with the poor Indians, and increased my business andmy responsibility. Some of the new contacts with Europeans became so close that they addedconsiderably to my moral obligations.I made the acquaintance of Mr.Polak in the vegetarian resturant, just as I had made that ofMr.West. One evening a young man dining at a table a little way off sent me his card expressinga desire to see me. i invited him to come to my table, which he did.I am sub-editor of the The Critic, he said When I read your letter to the press about the plague. Ifelt a strong desire to see you. I am glad to have this opportunity.Mr. Polaks candour drew me to him. The same evening we got to know each other. We seemedto hold closely similar views on the essential things of life. He liked simple life. He had a
  157. wonderful faculty of translating into practice anything that appealed to his intellect. Some of thechanges that he had made in his life were as prompt as they were radical.Indian Opinion was getting more and more expensive every day. The very first report from Mr.West was alarming. He wrote: I do not expect the concern to yield the profit that you had thoughtprobable. I am afraid there may be even a loss. The books are not in order. There are heavyarrears to be recovered, but one cannot make head or tail of them. Considerable overhauling willhave to be done. But all this need not alarm you. I shall try to put things right as best I can. Iremain on, whether there is profit or not.Mr. West might have left when he discovered that there was no profit, and I could not haveblamed him. In fact, he had a right to arraign me for having described the concern as profitablewithout proper proof. But he never so much as uttered one word of complaint. I have, however,an impression that this discovery led Mr. West to regard me as credulous. I had simply acceptedSjt. Madanjits estimate without caring to examine it, and told Mr. West to expect a profit.I now realize that a public worker should not make statements of which he has not made sure.Above all, a votary of truth must exercise the greatest caution. To allow a man to believe a thingwhich one has fully verified is to compromise truth. I am pained to have to confess that, in spite ofthis knowledge, I have not quite conquered my credulous habit, for which my ambition to do morework than I can manage is responsible. This ambition has often been a source of worry more tomy co-workers than to myself.On receipt of Mr. Wests letter I left for Natal. I had taken Mr. Polak into my fullest confidence. Hecame to see me off at the Station, and left with me a book to read during the journey, which hesaid I was sure to like. It was Ruskins Unto This Last.The book was impossible to lay aside, once I had begun it. It gripped me. Johannesburg toDurban was a twenty-four hours journey. The train reached there in the evening. I could not getany sleep that night. I determined to change my life in accordance with the ideals of the book.This was the first book of Ruskin I had ever read. During the days of my education I had readpractically nothing outside text-books, and after I launched into active life I had very little time forreading. I cannot therefore claim much book knowledge. However, I believe I have not lost muchbecause of this enforced restraint. On the contrary, the limited reading may be said to haveenabled me thoroughly to digest what I did read. Of these books, the one that brought about aninstantaneous and practical transformation in my life was Unto This Last. I translated it later intoGujarati, entitling it Sarvodaya (the welfare of all).I believe that I discovered some of my deepest convictions reflected in this great book of Ruskin,and that is why it so captured me and made me transform my life. A poet is one who can call forththe good latent in the human breast. Poets do not influence all alike, for everyone is not evolvedin a equal measure.The teaching of Unto This Last I understood to be:1. That the good of the individual is contained in the good of all.2. That a lawyers work has the same value as the barbers inasmuch as all have the same rightof earning their livehood from their work.3. That a life of labour, i.e., the life of the tiller of the soil and the handicraftsman is the life worthliving.
  158. The first of these I knew. The second I had dimly realized. The third had never occured to me.Unto This Last made it as clear as daylight for me that the second and the third were contained inthe first. I arose with the dawn, ready to reduce these principles to practice. Chapter 96 THE PHOENIX SETTLEMENTI talked over the whole thing with Mr. West, described to him the effect Unto This Last hadproduced on my mind, and proposed that Indian Opinion should be removed to a farm, on whicheveryone should labour, drawing the same living wage, and attending to the press work in sparetime. Mr. West approved of the proposal, and £3 was laid down as the monthly allowance perhead, irrespective of colour or nationality.But it was a question whether all the ten or more workers in the press would agree to go andsettle on an out-of-the-way farm, and be satisfied with bare maintenance. We therefore proposedthat those who could not fit in with the scheme should continue to draw their salaries andgradually try to reach the ideal of becoming members of the settlement.I talked to the workers in the terms of this proposal. It did not appeal to Sjt. Madanjit, whoconsidered my proposal to be foolish and held that it would ruin a venture on which he had stakedhis all; that the workers would bolt, Indian Opinion would come to a stop, and the press wouldhave to be closed down.Among the men working in the press was Chhaganlal Gandhi, one of my cousins. I had put theproposal to him at the same time as to West. He had a wife and children, but he had fromchildhood chosen to be trained and to work under me. He had full faith in me. So without anyargument he agreed to the scheme and has been with me ever since. The machinistGovindaswami also fell in with the proposal. The rest did not join the scheme, but agreed to gowherever I removed the press.I do not think I took more than two days to fix up these matters with the men. Thereafter I at onceadvertised for a piece of land situated near a railway station in the vicinity of Durban. An offercame in respect of Phoenix. Mr. West and I went to inspect the estate. Within a week wepurchased twenty acres of land. It had a nice little spring and a few orange and mango trees.Adjoining it was a piece of 80 acres which had many more fruit trees and a dilapidated cottage.We purchased this too, the total cost being a thousand pounds.The late Mr. Rustomji always supported me in such enterprises. He liked the project. He placed atmy disposal second-hand corrugated iron sheets of a big godown and other building material,with which we started work. Some Indian carpenters and masons, who had worked with me in theBoer War, helped me in erecting a shed for the press. This structure, which was 75 feet long and50 feet broad, was ready in less than a month. Mr. West and others, at great personal risk, stayedwith the carpenters and masons. The place, uninhabited and thickly overgrown with grass, wasinfested with snakes and obviously dangerous to live in. At first all lived under canvas. We cartedmost of our things to Phoenix in about a week. It was fourteen miles from Durban, and two and ahalf miles from Phoenix station.
  159. Only one issue of Indian Opinion had to be printed outside, in the Mercury press.I now endeavoured to draw to Phoenix those relations and friends who had come with me fromIndia to try their fortune, and who were engaged in business of various kinds. They had come insearch of wealth, and it was therefore difficult to persuade them; but some agreed. Of these I cansingle out here only Manganlal Gandhis name. The others went back to business. ManganlalGandhi left his business for good to cast in his lot with me, and by ability, sacrifice and devotionstands foremost among my original co-workers in my ethical experiments. As a self-taughthandicraftsman his place among them is unique.Thus the Phoenix Settlement was started in 1904, and there in spite of numerous odds IndianOpinion continues to be published.But the initial difficulties, the changes made, the hopes and the disappointments demand aseparate chapter. Chapter 97 THE FIRST NIGHTIt was no easy thing to issue the first number of Indian Opinion from Phoenix. Had I not takentwo precautions, the first issue would have had to be dropped or delayed. The idea of having anengine to work the press had not appealed to me. I had thought that hand-power would be morein keeping with an atmosphere where agricultural work was also to be done by hand. But as theidea had not appeared feasible, we had installed an oil-engine. I had, however, suggested toWest to have something handy to fall back upon in case the engine failed. He had thereforearranged a wheel which could be worked by hand. The size of the paper, that of a daily, wasconsidered reduced to foolscap size, so that, in case of emergency, copies might be struck offwith the help of a treadle.In the initial stages, we all had to keep late hours before the day of publication. Everyone, youngand old, had to help in folding the sheets. We usually finished our work between ten oclock andmidnight. But the first night was unforgettable. We had got out an engineer from Durban to put upthe engine and set it going. He and West tried their hardest, but in vain. Everyone was anxious.West, in despair, at last came to me, with tears in his eyes, and said, The engine will not work, Iam afraid we cannot issue the paper in time.If that is the case, we cannot help it. No use shedding tears. Let us do whatever else is humanlypossible. What about the handwheel? I said, comforting him.Where have we the men to work? he replied. We are not enough to cope with the job. It requiresrelays of four men each, and our own men are all tired.Building work had not yet been finished so the carpenters were still with us. They were sleepingon the press floor. I said pointed to them, But cant we make use of these carpenters? And wemay have a whole night of work. I think this device is still open to us.I dare not wake up the carpenters. And our men are really too tired, said West.
  160. Well, thats for me to negotiate, said I.Then it is possible that we may get through the work, West replied.I woke up the carpenters and requested their co-operation. They needed no pressure. They said,If we cannot be called upon in an emergency, what use are we? You rest yourselves and we willwork the wheel. For us it is easy work. Our own men were of course ready.West was greatly delighted and started singing a hymn as we set to work. I partnered thecarpenters, all the rest joined turn by turn, and thus we went on until 7 a.m. There was still a gooddeal to do. I therefore suggested to West that the engineer might now be asked to get up and tryagain to start the engine, so that if we succeeded we might finish in time.West woke him up, and he immediately went into the engine room. And lo and behold! the engineworked almost as soon as he touched it. The whole press rang with peals of joy. How can thisbe? How is it that all our labours last night were of no avail, and this morning it has been setgoing as though there were nothing wrong with it? I enquired.It is difficult to say, said West or the engineer, I forget which. Machines also sometimes seem tobehave as though they required rest like us.For me the failure of the engine had come as a test for us all, and its working in the nick of timeas the fruit of our honest and earnest labours.The copies were despatched in time, and everyone was happy.This initial insistence ensured the regularity of the paper, and created an atmosphere of self-reliance in Phoenix. There came a time we deliberately gave up the use of the engine and workedwith hand-power only. Those were, to my mind, the days of the highest moral uplift for Phoenix. Chapter 98 POLAK TAKES THE PLUNGEIt has always been my regret that, although I started the Settlement at Phoenix, I could staythere only for brief periods. My original idea had been gradually to retire from practice, go and liveat the Settlement, earn my livelihood by manual work there, and find the joy of service in thefulfilment of Phoenix. But it was not to be. I have found by experience that man makes his plansto be often upset by God, but, at the same time where the ultimate goal is the search of truth, nomatter how a mans plans are frustrated, the issue is never injurious and often better thananticipated. The unexpected turn that Phoenix took and the unexpected happenings werecertainly not injurious, though it is difficult to say that they were better than our originalexpectations.In order to enable every one of us to make a living by manual labour, we parcelled out the landround the press in pieces of three acres each. One of these fell to my lot. On all these plots we,much against our wish, built houses with corrugated iron. Our desire had been to have mud hutsthatched with straw or small brick houses such as would become ordinary peasants, but it could
  161. not be. They would have been more expensive and would have meant more time, and everyonewas eager to settle down as soon as possible.The editor was still Mansukhlal Naazar. He had not accepted the new scheme and was directingthe paper from Durban where there was a branch office for #Indian Opinion# though we had paidcompositors, the idea was for every members of the Settlement to learn type-setting, the easiest,if the most tedious, of the processes in a printing press. Those, therefore, who did not alreadyknow the work learnt it. I remained a dunce to the last. Maganlal Gandhi surpassed us all.Though he had never before worked in a press, he became an expert compositor and not onlyachieved great speed but, to my agreeable surprise, quickly mastered all the other branches ofpress work. I have always thought that he was not conscious of his own capacity.We had hardly settled down, the buildings were hardly ready, when I had to leave the newlyconstructed nest and go to Johannesburg. I was not in a position to allow the work there toremain without attention for any length of time.On return to Johannesburg, I informed Polak of the important changes I had made. His joy knewno bounds when he learnt that the loan of his book had been so fruitful. Is it not possible, heasked, for me to take part in the new venture? .Certainly, said I. You may if you like join theSettlement. I am quite ready, he replied, If you will admit me.His determination captured me. He gave a months notice to his chief to be relieved from #TheCritic#, and reached Phoenix in due course. By his sociability he won the hearts of all and soonbecame a member of the family. Simplicity was so much a part of his nature that, far from feelingthe life at Phoenix in any way strange or hard, he took to it like a duck takes to water. But I couldnot keep him there long. Mr. Ritch had decided to finish his legal studies in England, and it wasimpossible for me to bear the burden of the office single-handed, so I suggested to Polak that heshould join the office and qualify as an attorney. I had thought that ultimately both of us wouldretire and settle at Phoenix, but that never came to pass. Polaks was such a trustful nature that,when he reposed his confidence in a friend, he would try to agree with him instead of arguing withhim. He wrote to me from Phoenix that though he loved the life there, was perfectly happy,andhad hopes of developing the Settlement, still he was ready to leave and join the office to qualifyas an attorney, if I thought that thereby we should more quickly realize our ideals. I heartilywelcomed the letter. Polak left Phoenix, came to Johannesburg and signed his articles with me.About the same time a Scotch theosophist, whom I had been coaching for a local legalexamination, also joined as an articled clerk, on my inviting him to follow Polaks example. Hisname was Mr. MacIntyre.Thus, with the laudable object of quickly realizing the ideals at Phoenix, I seemed to be goingdeeper and deeper into a contrary current, and had God not willed otherwise, I should have foundmyself entrapped in this net spread in the name of simple life.It will be after a few more chapters that I shall describe how I and my ideals were saved in a wayno one had imagined or expected.
  162. Chapter 99 WHOM GOD PROTECTSI had now given up all hope of returning to India in the near future. I had promised my wife that Iwould return home within a year. The year was gone without any prospect of my return, so Idecided to send for her and the children.On the boat bringing them to South Africa, Ramdas, my third son, broke his arm while playingwith the ships captain. The captain looked after him well and had him attended to by the shipsdector. Ramdas landed with his hand in a sling. The doctor had advised that, as soon as wereached home, the wound should be dressed by a qualified doctor. But this was the time when Iwas full of faith in my experiments in earth treatment. I had even succeeded in persuading someof my clients who had faith in my quackery to try the earth and water treatment.What then was I to do for Ramdas? He was just eight years old. I asked him if he would mind mydressing his wound. With a smile he said he did not mind at all. It was not possible for him at thatage to decide what was the best thing for him, but he knew very well the distinction betweenquackery and proper medical treatment. And he knew my habit of home treatment and had faithenough to trust himself to me. In fear and trembling I undid the bandage, washed the wound,applied a clean earth poultice and tied the arm up again. This sort of dressing went on daily forabout a month until the wound was completely healed. There was no hitch, and the wound tookno more time to heal than the ships doctor had said it would under the usual treatment.This and other experiments enhanced my faith in such household remedies, and I now proceededwith them with more self-confidence. I widened the sphere of their application, trying the earthand water and fasting treatment in cases of wounds, fevers, dyspepsia, jaundice and othercomplaints, with success on most occasions. But nowadays I have not the confidence I had inSouth Africa and experience has even shown that these experiments involve obvious risks.The reference here, therefore, to these experiments is not meant to demonstrate their success. Icannot claim complete success for any experiment. Even medical men can make no such claimfor their experiments. My object is only to show that he who would go in for novel experimentsmust begin with himself. That leads to a quicker discovery of truth, and God always protects thehonest experimenter.The risks involved in experiments in cultivating intimate contacts with Europeans were as graveas those in the nature cure experiments. Only those risks were of a different kind. But incultivating those contacts I never so much as thought of the risks.I invited Polak to come and stay with me, and we began to live like blood brothers. The lady whowas soon to be Mrs. Polak and he had been engaged for some years, but the marriage had beenpostponed for a propitious time. I have an impression that Polak wanted to put some money bybefore he settled down to a married life. He knew Ruskin much better than I, but his Westernsurroundings were a bar against his translating Ruskins teaching immediately into practice. But Ipleaded with him: When there is a heart union, as in your case, it is hardly right to postponemarriage merely for financial consideratons. If poverty is a bar, poor men can never marry. Andthen you are now staying with me. There is no question of household expenses. I think youshould get married as soon as possible. As I have said in a previous chapter, I had never toargue a thing twice with Polak. He appreciated the force of my argument, and immediatelyopened correspondence on the subject with Mrs. Polak, who was then in England. She gladlyaccepted the proposal and in a few months reached Johannesburg. Any expense over the
  163. wedding was out of the question, not even a special dress was thought necessary. They neededno religious rites to seal the bond. Mrs. Polak was a Christian by birth and Polak a Jew. Theircommon religion was the religion of ethics.I may mention in passing an amusing incident in connection with this wedding. The Registrar ofEuropean marriages in the Transvaal could not register between black or coloured people. In thewedding in question, I acted as the best man. Not that we could not have got a European friendfor the purpose, but Polak would not brook the suggestion. So we three went to the Registrar ofmarriages. How could he be sure that the parties to a marriage in which I acted as the best manwould be whites? He proposed to postpone registration pending inquiries. The next day was asunday. The day following was New Years Day, a public holiday. To postpone the date of asolemnly arranged wedding on such a flimsy pretext was more than one could put up with. I knewthe Chief Magistrate, who was head of the Registration Department. So I appeared before himwith the couple. He laughed and gave me a note to the Registrar and the marriage was dulyregistered.Up to now the Europeans living with us had been more or less known to me before. But now anEnglish lady who was an utter stranger to us entered the family. I do not remember our everhaving had a difference with the newly married couple, but even if Mrs. Polak and my wife hadsome unpleasant experience, they would have been no more than what happen in the best-regulated homogeneous familes. And let it be remembered that mine would be considered anessentially heterogeneous family, where people of all kinds and temperaments were freelyadmitted. When we come to think of it, the distinction between heterogeneous and homogeneousis discovered to be merely imaginary. We are all one family.I had better celebrate Wests wedding also in this chapter. At this stage of my life, my ideas about#brahmacharya# had not fully matured, and so I was interesting myself in getting all my bachelorfriends married. When, in due course, West made a pilgrimage to Louth to see his parents, Iadvised him to return married if possible. Phoenix was the common home, and as we were allsupposed to have become farmers, we were not afraid of marriage and its usual consequences.West returned with Mrs. West, a beautiful young lady from Leicester. She came of a family ofshoemakers working in a Leicester factory. I have called her beautiful, because it was her moralbeauty that at once attracted me. True beauty after all consists in purity of heart. With Mr. Westhad come his mother-in-law too. The old lady is still alive. She put us all to shame by her industryand her buoyant, cheerful nature.In the same way as I persuaded these European friends to marry, I encouraged the Indian friendsto send for their families from home. Phoenix thus developed into a little village, half a dozenfamiles having come and settled and begun to increase there. Chapter 100 A PEEP INTO THE HOUSEHOLDIt has already been seen that, though household expenses were heavy, the tendency towardssimplicity began in Durban. But the Johannesburg house came in for much severer overhauling inthe light of Ruskins teaching.I introduced as much simplicity as was possible in a barristers house. It was impossible to dowithout a certain amount of furniture. The change was more internal than external. The liking for
  164. doing personally all the physical labour increased. I therefore began to bring my children alsounder that discipline.Instead of buying bakers bread, we began to prepare unleavened wholemeal bread at homeaccording to Kuhnes recipe. Common mill flour was no good for this, and the use of handgroundflour, it was thought, would ensure more simplicity, health and economy. So I purchased a hand-mill for £ 7. The iron wheel was too heavy to be tacked by one man, but easy for two. Polak and Iand the children usually worked it. My wife also occasionally lent a hand, though the grinding hourwas her usual time for commencing kitchen work. Mrs. Polak now joined us on her arrival. Thegrinding proved a very beneficial exercise for the children. Neither this nor any other work wasever imposed on them, but it was a pastime to them to come and lend a hand, and they were atliberty to break off whenever tired. But the children, including those whom I shall have occasion tointroduce later, as a rule never failed me. Not that I had no laggarded at all, but most did theirwork cheerfully enough. I can recall few youngsters in those days fighting shy of work or pleadingfatigue.We had engaged a servant to look after the house. He lived with us as a member of the family,and the children used to help him in his work. The municipal sweeper removed the night-soil, butwe personally attended to the cleaning of the closet instead of asking or expecting the servant todo it. This proved a good training for the children. The result was that none of my sons developedany aversion for scavengers work, and they naturally got a good grounding in general sanitation.There was hardly any illness in the home at Johannesburg, but whenever there was any, thenursing was willingly done by the children. I will not say that I was indifferent to their literaryeducation, but I certainly did not hesitate to sacrifice it. My sons have therefore some reason for agrievance against me. Indeed they have occasionally given expression to it, and I must pleadguilty to a certain extent. The desire to give them a literary education was there. I evenendeavoured to give it to them myself, but every now and then there was some hitch or other. AsI had made no other arrangement for their private tuition, I used to get them to walk with me dailyto the office and back home a distance of about 5 miles in all. This gave them and me a fairamount of exercise. I tried to instruct them by conversation during these walks, if there was noone else claiming my attention. All my children, excepting the eldest, Harilal, who had stayedaway in India, were brought up in Johannesburg in this manner. Had I been able to devote atleast an hour to their literary education with strict regularity, I should have given them, in myopinion, an ideal deucation. But it was been their, as also my, regret that I failed to ensure themenough literary training. The eldest son has often given vent to his distress privately before meand publicly in the press; the other sons have generously forgiven the failure as unavoidable. Iam not heart broken over it and the regret, if any, is that I did not prove an ideal father. But I holdthat I sacrificed their literary training to what I genuinely, though may be wrongly, believed to beservice to the community. I am quite clear that I have not been negligent in doing whatever wasneedful for building up their character. I believe it is the bounden duty of every parent to providefor this properly. Whenever, in spite of my endeavour, my sons have been found wanting, it is mycertain conviction that they have reflected, not want of care on my part, but the defects of boththeir parents.Children inherit the qualities of the parents, no less than their physical features. Environmentdoes play an important part, but the original capital on which a child starts in life is inherited fromits ancestors. I have also seen children successfully surmounting the effects of an evilinheritance. That is due to purity being an inherent attribute of the soul.Polak and I had often very heated discussions about the desirability or otherwise of giving thechildren an English education. It has always been my conviction that Indian parents who traintheir children to think and talk in English from their infancy betray their children and their country.They deprive them of the spiritual and social heritage of the nation, and render them to that extentunfit for the service of the country. Having these convictions, I made a point of always talking tomy children in Gujarati. Polak never liked this. He thought I was spoiling their future. He
  165. contended, with all the vigour and love at his conmand, that, if children were to learn a universallanguage like English from thier infancy, they would easily gain considerable advantage overothers in the race of life. He failed to convince me. I do not now remember whether I convincedhim of the correctness of my attitude, or whether he gave me up as too obstinate. This happenedabout twenty years ago, and my convictions have only deepened with experience. Though mysons have suffered for want of full literary education, the knowledge of the mother-tounge thatthey naturally acquired has been all to their and the countrys good, inasmuch as they do notappear the foreigners they would otherwise have appeared. They naturally become bilingual,speaking and writing English with fair ease, because of daily contact with a large cicle of Englishfriends, and because of their stay in a country where English was the chief language spoken. Chapter 101 THE ZULU REBELLIONEven after I thought I had settled down in Johannesburg, there was to be no settled life for me.Just when I felt that I should be breathing in peace, an unexpected event happened. The papersbrought the news of the out break of the Zulu rebellion in Natal. I bore no grudge against theZulus, they had harmed no Indian. I had doubts about the rebellion itself. But I then believed thatthe British Empire existed for the welfare of the world. A genuine sense of loyalty prevented mefrom even wishing ill to the Empire. The rightness or otherwise of the rebellion was therefore notlikely to affect my decision. Natal had a Volunteer Defence Force, and it was open to it to recruitmore men. I read that this force had already been mobilized to quell the rebellion.I considered myself a citizen of Natal, being intimately connected with it. So I wrote to theGovernor, expressing my readiness, if necessary, to form an Indian Ambulance Corps. He repliedimmediately accepting the offer.I had not expected such prompt acceptance. Fortunately I had made all the necessaryarrangements even before writing the letter. If my offer was accepted, I had decided to break upthe Johannesburg home. Polak was to have a smaller house, and my wife was to go and settle atPhoenix. I had her full consent to this decision. I do not remember her having ever stood in myway in matters like this. As soon, therefore, as I got the reply from the Governor, I gave thelandlord the usual months notice of vacating the house, sent some of the things to Phoenix andleft some with Polak.I went to Durban and appealed for men. A big contingent was not necessary. We were a party oftwenty-four, of whom, besides me, four were Gujaratis. The rest were ex-indentured men fromSouth India, excepting one who was a free Pathan.In order to give me a status and to facilitate work, as also in accordance with the existingconvention, the Chief Medical Officer appointed me to the temporary rank of Sergeant Major andthree men selected by me to the rank of sergeants and one to that of corporal. We also receivedour uniforms from the Government. Our Corps was on active service for nearly six weeks. Onreaching the scene of the rebellion, I saw that there was nothing there to justify the name ofrebellion. There was no resistance that one could see. The reason why the disturbance hadbeen magnified into a rebellion was that a Zulu chief had advised non-payment of a new tax
  166. imposed on his people, and had assagaied a sergeant who had gone to collect the tax. At anyrate my heart was with the Zulus, and I was delighted, on reaching headquarters, to hear that ourmain work was to be the nursing of the wounded Zulus. The Medical Officer in charge welcomedus. He said the white people were not willing nurses for the wounded Zulus, that their woundswere festering, and that he was at his wits end. He hailed our arrival as a godsend for thoseinnocent people, and he equipped us with bandages, disinfectants, etc., and took us to theimprovised hospital. The Zulus were delighted to see us. The white soldiers used to peep throughthe railing that separated us from them and tried to dissuade us from attending to the wounds.And as we would not heed them, they became enraged and poured unspeakable abuse on theZulus.Gradually I came into closer touch with these soldiers, and they ceased to interfere. Among thecommanding officers were Col. Sparks and Col. Wylie, who had bitterly opposed me in 1896.They were surprised at my attitude and specially called and thanked me. They introduced me toGeneral Mackenzie. Let not the reader think that these were professional soldiers. Col. Wylie wasa well-known Durban lawyer. Col. Sparks was well known as the owner of a butchers shop inDurban. Gereral Mackenzie was a noted Natal farmer. All these gentlemen were volunteers, andas such had received military training and experience.The wounded in our charge were not wounded in battle. A section of them had been takenprisoners as suspects. The General had sentenced them to be flogged. The flogging had causedsevere sores. These, being unattended to, were festering. The others were Zulu friendlies.Although these had badges given them to distinguish them from the enemy, they had been shotat by the soldiers by mistake.Besides this work I had to compound and dispense prescriptions for the white soldiers. This waseasy enough for me as I had received a years training in Dr. Booths little hospital. This workbrought me in close contact with many Europeans.We were attached to a swift-moving column. It had orders to march wherever danger wasreported. It was for the most part mounted infantry. As soon as our camp was moved, we had tofollow on foot with our stretchers on our shoulders. Twice or thrice we had to march forty miles aday. But wherever we went, I am thankful that we had Gods good work to do, having to carry tothe camp on our stretchers those Zulu friendlies who had been inadvertently wounded, and toattend upon them as nurses. Chapter 102 HEART SEARCHINGSThe Zulu rebellion was full of new experiences and gave me much food for thought. The BoerWar had not brought home to me the horrors of war with anything like the vividness that therebellion did. This was no war but a man-hunt, not only in my opinion, but also in that of manyEnglishmen with whom I had occasion to talk. To hear every morning reports of the soldiers riflesexploding like crackers in innocent hamlets, and to live in the midst of them was a trial. But Iswallowed the bitter draught, especially as the work of my Corps consisted only in nursing thewounded Zulus. I could see that but for us the Zulus would have been uncared for. This work,therefore, eased my conscience.
  167. But there was much else to set one thinking. It was a sparsely populated part of the country. Fewand far between in hills and dales were the scattered Kraals of the simple and so-calleduncivilized Zulus. Marching, with or without the wounded, through these solemn solitudes, I oftenfell into deep thought.I pondered over brahmacharya and its implications, and my convictions took deep root. Idiscussed it with my co-workers. I had not realized then how indispensable it was for self-realization. But I clearly saw that one aspiring to serve humanity with his whole soul could not dowithout it. It was borne in upon me that I should have more and more occasions for service of thekind I was rendering, and that I should find myself unequal to my task if I were engaged in thepleasures of family life and in the propagation and rearing of children.In a word, I could not live both after the flesh and the spirit. On the present occasion, for instance,I should not have been able to throw myself into the fray, had my wife been expecting a baby.Without the observance of brahmacharya service of the family would be inconsistent with serviceof the community. With brahmacharya they would be perfectly consistent.So thinking, I became somewhat impatient to take a final vow. The prospect of the vow brought acertain kind of exultation. Imagination also found free play and opened out limitless vistas ofservice.Whilst I was thus in the midst of strenuous physical and mental work, a report came to the effectthat the work of suppressing the rebellion was nearly over, and that we should soon bedischarged. A day or two after this our discharge came and in a few days we got back to ourhomes.After a short while I got a letter from the Governor specially thanking the Ambulance Corps for itsservices.On my arrival at Phoenix I eagerly broached the subject of Brahmacharya with Chhaganlal,Maganlal, West and others. They liked the idea and accepted the necessity of taking the vow, butthey also represented the difficulties of the task. Some of them set themselves bravely to observeit, and some, I know, succeeded also.I too took the plunge the vow to observe brahmacharya for life. I must confess that I had not thenfully realized the magnitude and immensity of the task I undertook. The difficulties are even todaystaring me in the face. The importance of the vow is being more and more borne in upon me. Lifewithout brahmacharya appears to me to be insipid and animal-like. The brute by nature knows noself-restraint. Man is man because he is capable of, and only in so far as he exercises, self-restraint. What formerly appeared to me to be extravagant praise of brahmacharya in ourreligious books seems now, with increasing clearness every day, to be absolutely proper andfounded on experience.I saw that brahmacharya, which is so full of wounderful potency, is by no means an easy affair,and certainly not a mere matter of the body. It begins with bodily restraint, but does not end there.The perfection of it precludes even an impure thought. A true brahmachari will not even dream ofsatisfying the fleshly appetite, and until he is in that condition, he has a great deal of ground tocover.For me the observance of even bodily brahmacharya has been full of difficulties. Today I may saythat I feel myself fairly safe, but I had yet to achieve complete mastery over thought, which is soessential. Not that the will or effort is lacking, but it is yet a problem to me wherefrom undersirablethoughts spring their insidious invasions. I have no doubt that there is a key to lock outundersirable thoughts, but every one has to find it out for himself. Saints and seers have left their
  168. experiences for us, but they have given us no infallible and universal prescription. For perfectionor freedom from error comes only from grace, and so seekers after God have left us mantras,such as Ramanama, hallowed by their own austerities and charged with their purity. Without anunreserved surrender to His grace, complete mastery over thought is impossible. This is theteaching of every great book of religion, and I am realizing the truth of it every moment of mystriving after that perfect brahmacharya .But part of the history of that striving and struggle will be told in chapters to follow. I shallconclude this chapter with an indication of how I set about the task. In the first flush of inthusiasm,I found the observance quite easy. The very first change I made in my mode of life was to stopsparing the same bed with my wife or seeking privacy with her.Thus brahmacharya which I had been observing willynilly since 1900, was sealed with a vow inthe middle of 1906. Chapter 103 THE BIRTH OF SATYAGRAHAE vents were so shaping themselves in Johannesburg as to make this self-purfication on mypart a preliminary as it were to Satyagraha. I can now see that all the principal events of my life,culminating in the vow of brahmacharya, were secretly preparing me for it. The principle calledSatyagraha came into being before that name was invented. Indeed when it was born, I myselfcould not say what it was. In Gujarati also we used the English pharse passive resistance todescribe it. When in a meeting of Europeans I found that the term passive resistance was toonarrowly construed, that it was supposed to be a weapon of the weak, that it could becharacterized by hatred, and that it could finally manifest itself as violence, I had to damur to allthese statements and explain the real nature of the Indian movement. It was clear that a newword must be coined by the Indians to designate their struggle.But I could not for the life of me find out a new name, and therefore offered a nominal prizethrough Indian Opinion to the reader who made the best suggestion on the subject. As a resultMaganlal Gandhi coined the word Sadagraha (Sat=truth, Agraha=firmness) and won the prize.But in order to make it clearer I changed the word to Satyagraha which has since becomecurrent in Gujarati as a designation for the struggle.The history of this strugle is for all practical purposes a histroy of the remainder of my life in SouthAfrica and especially of my expriments with truth in that sub-continent. I wrote the major portion ofthis history in Yeravda jail and finished it after I was released. It was published in Navajivan andsubsequently issued in book form. Sjt. Valji Govindji Desai has been translating it into English forCurrent Thought, but I am now arranging to have the English translation published in book form atan early date, so that those who will may be able to familiarize themselves with my mostimportant experiments in South Africa. I would recommend a perusal of my history of Satyagrahain South Africa to such readers as have not seen it already. I will not repeat what I have put downthere, but in the next few chapters will deal only with a few personal incidents of my life in SouthAfrica which have not been covered by that history. And when I have done with these, I will atonce proceed to give the reader some idea of my experiments in India. Therefore, anyone whowishes to consider these experiments in their strict chronological order will now do well to keepthe history of Satyagraha in South Africa bfore him.
  169. Chapter 104 MORE EXPERIMENTS IN DIETETICSI was anxious to observe brahmacharya in thought, word and deed, and equally anxious todevote the maximum of time to the Satyagraha struggle and fit myself for it by cultivating purity. Iwas therefore led to make further changes and to impose greater restraints upon myself in thematter of food. The motive for the previous changes had been largely hygienic, but the newexperiments were made from a religious standpoint.Fasting and restriction in diet now played a more important part in my life. Passion in man isgenerally co-existent with a hankering after the pleasures of the palate. And so it was with me. Ihave encountered many difficulties in trying to control passion as well as taste, and I cannot claimeven now to have brought them under complete subjection. I have considered myself to be aheavy eater. What friends have thought to be my restraint has never appeared to me in that light.If I had failed to develop restraint to the extent that I have, I should have descended lower thanthe beasts and met my doom long ago. However, as I had adequately realized my shortcomings,I made great efforts to get rid of them, and thanks to this endeavour I have all these years pulledon with my body and put in with it my share of work.Being conscious of my weakness and unexpectedly coming in contact with congenial company, Ibegan to take an exclusive fruit diet or to fast on the Ekadashi day, and also to observeJanmashtami and similar holidays.I began with a fruit diet, but from the standpoint of restraint I did not find much to choose betweena fruit diet and a diet of food grains. I observed that the same indulgence of taste was possiblewith the former as with the latter, and even more, when one got accustomed to it. I thereforecame to attach greater importance to fasting or having only one meal a day on holidays. And ifthere was some occasion for penance or the like, I gladly utilized it too for the purpose of fasting.But I also saw that, the body now being drained more effectively, the food yielded greater relishand the appetite grew keener. It dawned upon me that fasting could be made as powerful aweapon of indulgence as of restraint. Many similar later experiences of mine as well as of otherscan be adduced as evidence of this starting fact. I wanted to improve and train my body, but asmy chief object now was to achieve restraint and a conquest of the palate, I selected first onefood and then another, and at the same time restricted the amount. But the relish was after me,as it were. As I gave up one thing and took up another, this latter afforded me a fresher andgreater relish than its predecessor.In making these experiments I had several companions, the chief of whom was HermannKallenbach. I have already written about this friend in the history of Satyagraha in South Africa,and will not go over the same ground here. Mr. Kallenbach was always with me whether in fastingor in dietetic changes. I lived with him at his own place when the Satyagraha struggle was at itsheight. We discussed our changes in food and derived more pleasure from the new diet than fromthe old. Talk of this nature sounded quite pleasant in those days, and did not strike me as at allimproper. Experience has taught me, however, that it was wrong to have dwelt upon the relish offood. One should eat not in order to please the palate, but just to keep the body going. Wheneach organ of sense subserves the body and through the body the soul. Its special relishdisappears, and then alone does it begin to function in the way nature intended it to do.Any number of experiments is too small and no sacrifice is too great for attaining this symphonywith nature. But unfortunately the current is now-a-days flowing strongly in the opposite direction.
  170. We are not ashamed to sacrifice a multitude of other lives in decorating the perishable body andtrying to prolong it existence for a few fleeting moments, with the result that we kill ourselves, bothbody and soul. In trying to cure one old disease. We give rise to a hundred new ones: in trying toenjoy the pleasures of sense, we lose in the end even our capacity for enjoyment. All this ispassing before our very eyes, but there are none so blind as those who will not see.Having thus set forth their object and the train of ideas which led up to them, I now propose todescribe the dietetic experiments at some length. Chapter 105 KASTURBAIS COURAGEThrice in her life my wife narrowly escaped death through serious illness. The cures were dueto household remedies. At the time of her first attack Satyagraha was going on or was about tocommence. She had frequent haemorrhage. A medical friend advised a surgical operation, towhich she agreed after some hesitation. She was extremely emaciated, and the doctor had toperform the operation without chloroform. It was successful, but she had to suffer much pain, she,however, went through it with wonderful bravery. The doctor and his wife who nursed her were allattention. This was in Durban. The doctor gave me leave to go to Johannesburg, and told me notto have any anxiety about the patient.In a few days, however, I received a letter to the effect that Kasturbai was worse, too weak to situp in bed, and had once become unconscious. The doctor knew that he might not, without myconsent, give her wines or meat. So he telephoned to me at Johannesburg for permission to giveher beef tea. I replied saying I could not grant the permission, but that, if she was in a condition toexpress her wish in the matter she might be consulted and she was free to do as she liked. But,said the doctor, I refuse to consult the patients wishes in the matter. You must come yourself. Ifyou do not leave me free to prescribe whatever diet I like, I will not hold myself responsible foryour wifes life.I took the train for Durban the same day, and met the doctor who quietly broke this news to me: Ihad already given Mrs. Gandhi beef tea when I telephoned to you.Now, doctor, I call this a fraud, said I.No question of fraud in prescribing medicine or diet for a patient. In fact we doctors consider it avirtue to deceive patients or their relatives, if thereby we can save our patients, said the doctorwith determination.I was deeply pained, but kept cool. The doctor was a good man and a personal friend. He and hiswife had laid me under a debt of gratitude, but I was not prepared to put up with his medicalmorals.Doctor, tell me what you propose to do now. I would never allow my wife to be given meat orbeef, even if the denial meant her death, unless of course she desired to take it.
  171. You are welcome to your philosophy. I tell you that, so long as you keep your wife under mytreatment, I must have the option to give her anything I wish. If you dont like this, I mustregretfully ask you to remove her. I cant see her die under my roof.Do you mean to say that I must remove her at once?Whenever did I ask you to remove her? I only want to be left entirely free. If you do so, my wifeand I will do all that is possible for her, and you may go back without the least anxiety on herscore. But if you will not understand this simple thing, you will compel me to ask you to removeyour wife from my place.I think one of my sons was with me. He entirely agreed with me, and said his mother should notbe given beef tea. I next spoke to Kasturbai herself. She was really too weak to be consulted inthis matter. But I thought it my painful duty to do so. I told her what had passed between thedoctor and myself. She gave a resolute reply: I will not take beef tea. It is a rare thing in thisworld to be born as a human being, and I would far rather die in your arms than pollute my bodywith such abominations.I pleaded with her. I told her that she was not bound to follow me. I cited to her the instances ofHindu friends and acquaintances who had no scruples about taking meat or wine as medicine.But she was adamant. No, said she, pray remove me at once.I was delighted. Not without some agitation I decided to take her away. I informed the doctor ofher resolve. He exclaimed in a rage: What a callous man you are! You should have beenashamed to broach the matter to her in her present condition. I tell you your wife is not least littlehustling. I shouldnt surprised if she were to die on the way. But if you must persist, you are freeto do so. If you will not give her beef tea, I will not take the risk of keeping her under my roof evenfor a single day.So we decided to leave the place at once. It was drizzling and the station was some distance. Wehad to take the train from Durban for Phoenix, whence our Settlement was reached by a road oftwo miles and a half, I was undoubtedly taking a very great risk, but I trusted in God, andproceeded with my task. I sent a messenger to Phoenix in advance, with a message to West toreceive us at the station with a hammock, a bottle of hot milk and one of hot water, and six men tocarry kasturbai in the hammock. I got a rickshaw to enable me to take her by the next availabletrain, put her into it in that dangerous condition, and marched away.Kasturbai needed no cheering up. On the contrary, she comforted me, saying: Nothing willhappen to me. Dont worry.She was mere skin and bone, having had no nourishment for days. The station platform was verylarge, and as the rickshaw could not be taken inside, one had to walk some distance before onecould reach the train. So I carried her in my arms and put her into the compartment. FromPhoenix we carried her in the hammock, and there she slowly picked up strength underhydropathic treatment.In two or three days of our arrival at Phoenix a Swami came to our place. He had heard of theresolute way in which we had rejected the doctors advice, and he had, out of sympathy, come toplead with us. My second and third sons Manilal and Ramdas were, so far as I can recollect,present when the Swami came. He held forth on the religious harmlessness of taking meat, citingauthorities from Manu. I did not like his carrying on this disputation in the presence of my wife, butI suffered him to do so out of courtesy. I knew the verses from the Manusmriti, I did not needthem for my conviction. I knew also that there was a school which regarded these verses asinterpolations: but even if they were not, I held my views on vegetarianism independently of
  172. religious texts, and Kasturbais faith was unshakable. To her the scriptural texts were a sealedbook, but the traditional religion of her forefathers was enough for her. The children swore by theirfathers creed and so they made light of the Swamis discourse. But Kasturbai put an end to thedialogue at once. Swamiji, she said,Whatever you may say, I do not want to recover by meansof beef tea. Pray dont worry me any more. You may discuss the thing with my husband andchildren if you like. But my mind is made up. Chapter 106 DOMESTIC SATYAGRAHAMy first experience of jail life was in 1908. I saw that some of the regulations that the prisonershad to observe were such as should be voluntarily observed by a brahmachari, that is, onedesiring to practise self-restraint. Such, for instance, was the regulation requiring the last meal tobe finished before sunset. Neither the Indian nor the African prisoners were allowed tea or coffee.They could add salt to the cooked food if they wished, but they might not have anything for themere satisfaction of the palate. When I asked the jail medical officer to give us curry powder, andto let us add salt to the food whilst it was cooking, he said: You are not here for satisfying yourpalate. From the point of view of health, curry powder is not necessary, and it makes nodifference whether you add salt during or after cooking.Ultimeately these restrictions were modified, though not without much difficulty, but both werewholesome rules of self-restraint. Inhabitions imposed from without rarely suceed, but when theyare self-imposed, they have a decidedly salutary effect. So, immediately after release from jail, Iimposed on myself the two rules. As far as was then possible, I stopped taking tea, and finishedmy last meal before sunset. Both these now require no effort in the observance.There came, however, an occasion which compelled me to give up salt altogether, and thisrestriction I continued for an unbroken period of ten years. I had read in some books onvegetarianism that salt was not a necessary article of diet for man, that on the contrary saltlessdiet was better for the health. I had deduced that a brahmachari benefited by a saltless diet, I hadread and realized that the weak- bodied should avoid pulses. I was very fond of them.Now it happened that Kasturbai, who had a brief respite after her operation, had again begungetting haemorrhage, and the malady seemed to be obstinate. Hydropathic treatment by itself didnot answer. She had not much faith in my remedies, though she did not resist them. She certainlydid not ask for outside help. So when all my remedies had failed. I entreated her to give up saltand pulses. She would not agree, however much I pleaded with her, supporting myself withauthorities. At last she challenged me, saying that even I could not give up these articles if I wasadvised to do so, I was pained and equally delighted, delighted in that I got an opportunity toshower my love on her. I said to her: You are mistaken. If I was ailing and the doctor advised meto give up these or any other articles, I should unhesitatingly do so. But there! Without anymedical advice, I give up salt and pulses for one year, whether you do so or not.She was rudely shocked and exclaimed in deep sorrow: Pray forgive me. Knowing you, I shouldnot have provoked you. I promise to abstain from these things, but for heavens sake take backyour vow. This is too hard on me.It is very good for you to forego these articles. I have not the slightst doubt that you will be all thebetter without them. As for me, I cannot retract a vow seriously taken. And it is sure to benefit me,
  173. for all restraint, whatever prompts it, is wholesome for men. You will therefore leave me alone. Itwill be a test for me, and a moral support to you in carrying out your resolve.So she gave me up. You are too obstinate. You will listen to none, she said, and sought relief intears.I would like to count this incident as an instance of Satyagraha, and it is one of the sweetestrecollections of my life.After this Kasturbai began to pick up quickly whether as a result of the saltless and pulseless dietor of the other consequent changes in her food, whether as a result of my strict vigilance inexacting observance of the other rules of life, or as an effect of the mental exhilaration producedby the incident, and if so to what extent, I cannot say. But she rallied quickly, haemorrhagecompletely stopped, and I added somewhat to my reputation as a quack.As for me, I was all the better for the new denials. I never craved for the things I had left, the yearsped away, and I found the senses to be more subdued than ever. The experiment stimulated theinclination for self-restraint, and I returned to India. Only once I happened to take both the articleswhilst I was in London in 1914. But of that occasion, and as to how I resumed both, I shall speakin a later chapter.I have tried the experiment of a saltles and pulseless diet on many of my co-workers, and withgood results in South Africa. Medically there may be two opinions as to the value of this diet, butmorally I have no doubt that all self-denial is good for the soul. The diet of a man of self-restraintmust be different from that of a man of pleasure, just as their ways of life must be different.Aspirants after brahmacharya often defeat their own end by adopting courses suited to a life ofpleasure. Chapter 107 TOWARDS SELF-RESTRAINTI have described in the last chapter how Kasturbais illness was instrumental in bringing aboutsome changes in my diet. At a later stage more changes were introduced for the sake ofsupporting brahmacharya.The first of these was the giving up of milk. It was from Raychandbhai that I first learnt that milkstimulated animal passion. Books on vegetarianism strengthened the idea, but so long as I hadnot taken the brahmacharya vow I could not make up my mind to forego milk. I had long realizedthat milk was not necessary for supporting the body, but it was not easy to give it up. While thenecessity for avoiding milk in the interests of self-restraint was growing upon me, I happened tocome across some literature from Calcutta, describing the tortures to which cows and buffaloeswere subjected by their keepers. This had a wonderful effect on me. I discussed it with Mr.Kallenbach.Though I have introduced Mr. Kallenbach to the readers of the history of Satyagraha in SouthAfrica, and referred to him in a previous chapter, I think it necessary to say something more abouthim here. We met quite by accident. He was a friend of Mr. Khans, and as the latter haddiscovered deep down in him a vein of other-worldliness he introduced him to me.
  174. When I came to know him I was startled at his love of luxury and extravagance. But at our veryfirst meeting, he asked searching questions concerning matters of religion. We incidentally talkedof Gautam Buddhas renunciation. Our acquaintance soon ripened into very close friendship, somuch so that we thought alike, and he was convinced that he must carry out in his life thechanges I was making in mine.At that time he was single, and was expending Rs. 1,200 monthly on himself, over and abovehouse rent. Now he reduced himself to such simplicity that his expenses came to Rs. 120 permonth. After the breaking up of my household and my first release from jail, we began to livetogether. It was a fairly hard life that we led.It was during this time that we had the discussion about milk. Mr. Kallenbach said, We constantlytalk about the harmful effects of milk. Why then do not we give it up? It is certainly not necessary.I was agreeably surprised at the suggestion, which I warmly welcomed, and both of us pledgedourselves to abjure milk there and then. This was at Tolstoy Farm in the year 1912.But this denial was not enough to satisfy me. Soon after this I decided to live on a pure fruit diet,and that too composed of the cheapest fruit possible, Our ambition was to live the life of thepoorest people.The fruit diet turned out to be very convenient also. Cooking was practically done away with. Rawgroundnuts, bananas, dates, lemons, and olive oil composed our usual diet.I must here utter a warning for the aspirants of brahmacharya. Though I have made out anintimate connection between diet and brahmacharya, it is certain that mind is the principal thing.A mind consciously unclean cannot be cleansed by fasting. Modifications in diet have no effect onit. The concupiscence of the mind cannot be rooted out except by intense self-examination,surrender to God and lastly, grace. But there is an intimate connection between the mind and thebody, and carnal mind always lusts for delicacies and luxuries. To obviate this tendency dieteticrestrictions and fasting would appear to be necessary. The carnal mind, instead of controlling thesenses, becomes their slave, and therefore the body always needs clean non-stimulating foodsand periodical fasting.Those who make light of dietetic restrictions and fasting are as much in error as those who staketheir all on them. My experience teaches me that, for those whose minds are working towardsself-restraint, dietetic restrictions and fasting are very helpful. In fact without their helpconcupiscence cannot be completely rooted out the mind. Chapter 108 FASTINGJust about the time when I gave up milk and cereals, and started on the experiment of a fruitdiet, I commenced fasting as a means of self-restraint. In this Mr. Kallenbach also joined me. Ihad been used to fasting now and again, but for purely health reasons. That fasting wasnecessary for self-restraint I learnt from a friend.Having been born in a Vaishnava family and of a mother who was given to keeping all sorts ofhard vows, I had observed, while in India, the Ekadashi and other fasts, but in doing so I hadmerely copied my mother and sought to please my parents.
  175. At that time I did not understand, nor did I believe in, the efficacy of fasting. But seeing that thefriend I have mentioned was observing it with benefit, and with the hope of supporting thebrahmacharya vow, I followed his example and began keeping the Ekadashi fast. As a ruleHindus allow themselves milk and fruit on a fasting day, but such fast I had been keeping daily.So now I began complete fasting, allowing myself only water.When I started on this experiment, the Hindu month of Shravan and the Islamic month of Ramzanhappened to coincide. The Gandhis used to observe not only the Vaishnava but also the Shaivitevows, and visited the Shaivite as also the Vaishnava temples. Some of the members of the familyused to observe pradosha in the whole of the month of Shravan. I decided to do likewise.These important experiments were undertaken while we were at Tolstoy Farm, where Mr.Kallenbach and I were staying with a few Satyagrahi families, including young people andchildren. For these last we had a school. Among them were four or five Musalmans. I alwayshelped and encouraged them in keeping all their religious observances. I took care to see thatthey offered their daily namaz. There were Christians and Parsi youngsters too, whom Iconsidered it my duty to encourage to follow their respective religious observances.During this month, therefore, I persuaded the Musalman youngsters to observe the ramzan fast. Ihad of course decided to observe pradosha myself, but I now asked the Hindu, Parsi andChristian youngsters to join me. I explained to them that it was always a good thing to join withothers in any matter of self-denial. Many of the Farm inmates welcomed my proposal. The Hinduand the Parsi youngsters did not copy the Musalman ones in every details; it was not necessary.The Musalman youngsters had to wait for their breakfast until sunset, whereas the others did notdo so, and were thus able to prepare delicacies for the Musalman friends and serve them. Norhad the Hindu and other youngsters to keep the Musalmans company when they had their lastmeal before sunrise next morning, and of course all except the Musalmans allowed themselveswater.The result of these experiments was that all were convinced of the value of fasting, and asplendid esprit de corps grew up among them.We were all vegetarians on Tolstoy Farm, thanks, I must gratefully confess, to the readiness of allto respect my feelings. The Musalman youngsters must have missed their meat during ramzan,but none of them ever let me know that they did so. They delighted in and relished the vegetariandiet, and the Hindu youngsters often prepared vegetarian delicacies for them, in keeping with thesimplicity of the Farm.I have purposely digressed in the midst of this chapter on fasting, as I could not have given thesepleasant reminiscences anywhere else, and I have indirectly described a characteristic of mine,namely that I have always loved to have my co-workers with me in anything that has appealed tome as being good. They were quite new to fasting, but thanks to the pradosha and ramzan fasts,it was easy for me to interest them in fasting as a means of self-restraint.Thus an atmosphere of self-restraint naturally sprang up on the Farm. All the Farm inmates nowbegan to join us in keeping partial and complete fasts, which, I am sure, was entirely to the good.I cannot definitely say how far this self-denial touched their hearts and helped them in theirstriving to conquer the flesh. For my part, however, I am convinced that I greatly benefited by itboth physically and morally. But I know that it does not necessarily follow that fasting and similardisciplines would have the same effect for all.Fasting can help to curb animal passion, only if it is undertaken with a view to self-restraint. Someof my friends have actually found their animal passion and palate stimulated as an after-effect offasts. That is to say, fasting is futile unless it is accompanied by an incessant longing for self-
  176. restraint. The famous verse from the second chapter of the Bhagavadgita is worth noting in thisconnection:For a man who is fasting his senses Outwardly, the sense-objects disappear, Leaving theyearning behind; but when He has seen the Highest, Even the yearning disappears.Fasting and similar discipline is, therefore, one of the means to the end of self-restraint, but it isnot all, and if physical fasting is not accompanied by mental fasting, it is bound to end inhypocrisy and disaster. Chapter 109 AS SCHOOLMASTERThe reader will, I hope, bear in mind the fact that I am, in these chapters, describing things notmentioned, or only cursorily mentioned, in the history of Satyagraha in South Africa. If he doesso, he will easily see the connection between the recent chapters.As the Farm grew, it was found necessary to make some provision for the education of its boysand girls. There were, among these, Hindu, Musalman, Parsi and Christian boys and some Hindugirls. It was not possible, and I did not think it necessary, to engage special teachers for them. Itwas not possible, for qualified Indian teachers were scarce, and even when available, none wouldbe ready to go to a place 21 miles distant from Johannesburg on a small salary. Also we werecertainly not overflowing with money. And I did not think it necessary to import teachers fromoutside the Farm. I did not believe in the existing system of education, and I had a mind to findout by experience and experiment the true system. Only this much I knew-that, under idealconditions, true education could be imparted only by the parents, and that then there should bethe minimum of outside help, that Tolstoy Farm was a family, in which I occupied the place of thefather, and that I should so far as possible shoulder the responsibility for the training of the young.The conception no doubt was not without its flaws. All the young people had not been with mesince their childhood, they had been brought up in different conditions and environments, andthey did not belong to the same religion. How could I do full justice to the young people, thuscircumstanced, even if I assumed the place of paterfamilias?But I had always given the first place to the culture of the heart or the building of character, andas I felt confident that moral training could be given to all alike, no matter how different their agesand their upbringing, I decided to live amongst them all the twenty-four hours of the day as theirfather. I regarded character building as the proper foundation for their education and, if thefoundation was firmly laid, I was sure that the children could learn all the other things themselvesor with the assistance of friends.But as I fully appreciated the necessity of a literary training in addition, I started some classeswith the help of Mr. Kallenbach and Sjt. Pragji Desai. Nor did I underrate the building up of thebody. This they got in the course of their daily routine. For there were no servants on the Farm,and all the work, from cooking down to scavenging, was done by the immates. There were manyfruit trees to be looked after, and enough gardening to be done as well. Mr. Kallenbach was fondof gardening and had gained some experience of this work in one of the Governmental modelgardens. It was obligatory on all, young and old, who were not engaged in the kitchen, to give
  177. some time to gardening. The children had the lions share of this work, which included diggingpits, felling timber and lifting loads. This gave them ample exercise. They took delight in the work,and so they did not generally need any other exercise or games. Of course some of them, andsometimes all them, malingered and shirked. Sometimes I connived at their pranks, but often Iwas strict with them, I dare say they did not like the strictness, but I do not recollect their havingresisted it. Whenever I was strict, I would, by argument, convince them that it was not right to playwith ones work. The conviction would, however, be short-lived, the next moment they wouldagain leave their work and go to play. All the same we got along, and at any rate they built up finephysiques. There was scarcely any illness on the Farm, though it must be said that good air andwater and regular hours of food were not a little responsible for this.A word about vocational training. It was my intention to teach every one of the youngsters someuseful manual vocation. For this purpose Mr. Kallenbach went to a Trappist monastery andreturned having learnt shoemaking. I learnt it from him and taught the art to such as were readyto take it up. Mr. Kallenbach had some experience of carpentry, and there was another inmatewho knew it; so we had a small class in carpentry. Cooking almost all the youngsters knew.All this was new to them. They had never even dreamt that they would have to learn these thingssome day. For generally the only training that Indian children received in South Africa was in thethree Rs.On Tolstoy Farm we made it a rule that the youngsters should not be asked to do what theteachers did not do, and therefore, when they were asked to do any work, there was always ateacher co-operating and actually working with them. Hence whatever the youngsters learnt, theylearnt cheerfully.Literary training and character building must be dealt with in the following chapters. Chapter 110 LITERARY TRAININGIt was seen in the last chapter how we provided for the physical training on Tolstoy Farm, andincidentally for the vocational. Though this was hardly done in a way to satisfy me, it may beclaimed to have been more or less successful.Literary training, however, was a more difficult matter. I had neither the resources nor the literaryequipment necessary; and I had not the time I would have wished to devote to the subject. Thephysical work that I was doing used to leave me thoroughly exhausted at the end of the day, and Iused to have the classes just when I was most in need of some rest. Instead, therefore, of mybeing fresh for the class, I could with the greatest difficulty keep myself awake. The mornings hadto be devoted to work on the farm and domestic duties, so the school hours had to be kept afterthe midday meal. There was no other time suitable for the school.We gave three periods at the most to literary training. Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati and Urdu were alltaught, and tuition was given through the vernaculars of the boys. English was taught as well, itwas also necessary to acquaint the Gujarati Hindu children with a little Samskrit, and to teach allthe children elementary history, geography and arithmetic.
  178. I had undertaken to teach Tamil and Urdu. The little Tamil I knew was acquired during voyagesand in jail. I had not got beyond Popes excellent Tamil handbook. My knowledge of the Urduscript was all that I had acquired on a single voyage, and my knowledge of the language wasconfined to the familiar Persian and Arabic words that I had learnt from contact with Musalmanfriends. Of Samskrit I knew no more than I had learnt at the high school, even my Gujarati was nobetter than that which one acquires at the school.Such was the capital with which I had to carry on. In poverty of literary equipment my colleagueswent one better than I. But my love for the languages of my country, my confidence in my pupils,and more than that, their generosity, stood me in good stead.The Tamil boys were all born in South Africa, and therefore knew very little Tamil, and did notknow the script at all. So I had to teach them the script and the rudiments of grammar. That waseasy enough. My pupils knew that they could any day beat me in Tamil conversation, and whenTamilians, not knowing English, came to see me, they became my interpreters. I got alongmerrily, because I never attempted to disguise my ignorance from my pupils. In all respects Ishowed myself to them exactly as I really was. Therefore in spite of my colossal ignorance of thelanguage I never lost their love and respect. It was comparatively easier to teach the Musalmanboys Urdu. They knew the script. I had simply to stimulate in them an interest in reading and toimprove their handwriting.These youngsters were for the most part unlettered and unschooled. But I found in the course ofmy work that I had very little to teach them, beyond weaning them from their laziness, andsupervising their studies. As I was content with this, I could pull on with boys of different ages andlearning different subjects in one and the same class room.Of text-books, about which we hear so much, I never felt the want. I do not even rememberhaving made much use of the books that were available. I did not find it at all necessary to loadthe boys with quantities of books. I have always felt that the true text-book for the pupil is histeacher. I remember very little that my teachers taught me from books, but I have even now aclear recollection of the things they taught me independently of books.Children take in much more and with less labour through their ears than through their eyes. I donot remember having read any book from cover to cover with my boys. But I gave them, in myown language, all that I had digested from my reading of various books, and I dare say they arestill carrying a recollection of it in their minds. It was laborious for them to remember what theylearnt from books, but what I imparted to them by word of mouth, they could repeat with thegreatest ease. Reading was a task for them, but listening to me was a pleasure, when I did notbore them by failure to make my subject interesting. And from the questions that my talksprompted them to put, I had a measure of their power of understanding. Chapter 111 TRAINING OF THE SPIRITThe spiritual training of the boys was a much more difficult matter than their physical andmental training. I relied little on religious books for the training of the spirit. Of course, I believedthat every student should be acquainted with the elements of his own religion and have a generalknowledge of his own scriptures, and therefore I provided for such knowledge as best I could. But
  179. that, to my mind, was part of the intellectual training. Long before I undertook the education of theyoungsters of the Tolstoy Farm I had realized that the training of the spirit was a thing by itself. Todevelop the spirit is to build character and to enable one to work towards a knowledge of God andself-realization. And I held that this was an essential part of the training of the young, and that alltraining without culture of the spirit was of no use, and might be even harmful.I am familiar with the superstition that self-realization is possible only in the fourth stage of life,i.e., sannyasa (renunciation). But it is a matter of common knowledge that those who deferpreparation for this invaluable experience until the last stage of life attain not self-realization butold age amounting to a second and pitiable childhood, living as a burden on this earth. I have afull recollection that I held these views even whilst I was teaching i. e., in 1911-12, though I mightnot then have expressed them in identical language.How then was this spiritual training to be given? I made the children memorize and recite hymns,and read to them from books on moral training. But that was far from satisfying me. As I cameinto closer contact with them I saw that it was not through books that one could impart training ofthe spirit. Just as physical training was to be imparted through physical exercise even so thetraining of the spirit was possible only through the exercise of the spirit. And the exercise of thespirit entirely depended on the life and character of the teacher. The teacher had always to bemindful of his ps and qs, whether he was in the midst of his boys or not.It is possible for a teacher situated miles away to affect the spirit of the pupils by his way of living.It would be idle for me, if I were a liar, to teach boys to tell the truth. A cowardly teacher wouldnever succeed in making his boys valiant, and a stranger to self- restraint could never teach hispupils the value os self-restraint. I saw therefore that I must be an eternal object-lesson to theboys and girls living with me. They thus became my teachers, and I learnt I must be good and livestraight, if only for their sakes. I may say that the increasing discipline and restraint I imposed onmyself at Tolstoy Farm was mostly due to those wards of mine.One of them was wild, unruly, given to lying, and quarrelsome. On one occasion he broke outmost violently. I was exasperated. I never punished my boys, but this time I was very angry. Itried to reason with him. But he was adamant and even tried to overreach me. At last I picked upa ruler lying at hand and delivered a blow on his arm. I trembled as I struck him. I dare say henoticed it. This was an entirely novel experience for them all. The boy cried out and begged to beforgiven. He cried not because the beating was painful to him; he could, if he had been sominded, have paid me back in the same coin, being a stoutly built youth of seventeen; but herealized my pain in being driven to this violent resource. Never again after this incident did hedisobey me. But I still repent that violence. I am afraid I exhibited before him that day not thespirit, but the brute, in me.I have always been opposed to corporal punishment. I remember only one occasion on which Iphysically punished one of my sons. I have therefore never until this day been able to decidewhether I was right or wrong in using the ruler. Probably it was improper, for it was prompted byanger and a desire to punish. Had it been an expression only of my distress, I should haveconsidered it justified. But the motive in this case was mixed.This incident set me thinking and taught me a better method of correcting students. I do not knowwhether that method would have availed on the occasion in question. The youngster soon forgotthe incident, and I do not think he ever showed great improvement,. But the incident made meunderstand better the duty of a teacher towards his pupils.Cases of misconduct on the part of the boys often occurred after this, but I never resorted tocorporal punishment. Thus in my endeavour to impart spiritual training to the boys and girls underme, I came to understand better and better the power of the spirit.
  180. Chapter 112 TARES AMONG THE WHEATIt was at Tolstoy Farm that Mr. Kallenbach drew my attention to a problem that had never beforestruck me. As I have already said, some of the boys at the Farm were bad and unruly. Therewere loafers, too, amongst them. With these my three boys came in daily contact, as also didother children of the same type as my own sons. This troubled Mr. Kallenbach, but his attentionwas centred on the impropriety of keeping my# boys with these unruly youngsters.One day he spoke out: Your way of mixing your own boys with the bad ones does not appeal tome. It can have only one result. They will become demoralized through this bad company.I do not remember whether the question puzzled me at the moment, but I recollect what I said tohim:How can I distinguish between my boys and the loafers? I am equally responsible for both. Theyoungsters have come because I invited them. If I were to dismiss them with some money, theywould immediately run off to Johannesburg and fall back into their old ways. To tell you the truth,it is quite likely that they and their guardians believe that, by having come here, they have laid meunder an obligation. That they have to put up with a good deal of inconvenience here, you and Iknow very well. But my duty is clear. I must have them here, and therefore my boys also mustneeds live with them. And surely you do not want me to teach my boys to feel from today thatthey are superior to other boys. To put that sense of superiority into their heads would be to leadthem astray. This association with other boys will be a good discipline for them. They will, of theirown accord, learn to discriminate between good and evil. Why should we not believe that, if thereis really anything good in them, it is bound to react on their companions? However that may be, Icannot help keeping them here, and if that means some risk, we must run it.Mr. Kallenbach shook his head.The result, I think, cannot be said to have been bad. I do not consider my sons were any theworse for the experiment. On the contrary I can see that they gained something. If there was theslightest trace of superiority in them, it was destroyed and they learnt to mix with all kinds ofchildren. They were tested and disciplined.This and similar experiments have shown me that, if good children are taught together with badones and thrown into their company, they will lose nothing, provided the experiment is conductedunder the watchful care of their parents and guardians.Children wrapped up in cottonwool are not always proof against all temptation or contamination. Itis true, however, that when boys and girls of all kinds of upbringing are kept and taught together,the parents and the teachers are put to the severest test. They have constantly to be on the alert.
  181. Chapter 113 FASTING AS PENANCEDay by day it became increasingly clear to me how very difficult it was to bring up and educateboys and girls in the right way. If I was to be their real teacher and guardian, I must touch theirhearts. I must share their joys and sorrows, I must help them to solve the problems that facedthem, and I must take along the right channel the surging aspirations of their youth.On the release of some of the Satyagrahis from jail, Tolstoy Farm was almost denuded of itsinmates. The few that remained mostly belonged to Phoenix. So I removed them there. Here Ihad to pass through a fiery ordeal.In those days I had to move between Johannesburg and Phoenix. Once when I was inJohannesburg I received tidings of the moral fall of two of the inmates of the Ashram. News of anapparent failure or reverse in the Satyagraha struggle would not have shocked me, but this newscame upon me like a thunderbolt. The same day I took the train for Phoenix. Mr. Kallenbachinsisted on accompanying me. He had noticed the state I was in. He would not brook the thoughtof my going alone, for he happened to be the bearer of the tidings which had so upset me.During the journey my duty seemed clear to me. I felt that the guardian or teacher wasresponsible, to some extent at least, for the lapse of his ward or pupil. So my responsibilityregarding the incident in question became clear to me as daylight. My wife had already warnedme in the matter, but being of a trusting nature, I had ignored her caution. I felt that the only waythe guilty parties could be made to realize my distress and the depth of their own fall would be forme to do some penance. So I imposed upon myself a fast for seven days and a vow to have onlyone meal a day for a period of four months and a half. Mr. Kallenbach tried to dissuade me, but invain. He finally conceded the propriety of the penance, and insisted on joining me. I could notresist his transparent affection.I felt greatly relieved, for the decision meant a heavy load off my mind. The anger against theguilty parties subsided and gave place to the purest pity for them. Thus considerably eased, Ireached Phoenix. I made further investigation and acquainted myself with some more details Ineeded to know.My penance pained everybody, but it cleared the atmosphere. Everyone came to realize what aterrible thing it was to be sinful, and the bond that bound me to the boys and girls becamestronger and truer.A circumstance arising out of this incident compelled me, a little while after, to go into a fast forfourteen days, the results of which exceeded even my expectations.It is not my purpose to make out from these incidents that it is the duty of a teacher to resort tofasting whenever there is a delinquency on the part of his pupils. I hold, however, that someoccasions do call for this drastic remedy. But it presupposes clearness of vision and spiritualfitness. Where there is no true love between the teacher and the pupil, where the pupilsdelinquency has not touched the very being of the teacher and where the pupil has no respect forthe teacher, fasting is out of place and may even be harmful. Though there is thus room fordoubting the propriety of fasts in such cases, there is no question about the teachersresponsibility for the errors of his pupil.
  182. The first penance did not prove difficult for any of us. I had to suspend or stop none of my normalactivities. It may be recalled that during the whole of this period of penance I was a strictfruitarian. The latter part of the second fast went fairly hard with me. I had not then completelyunderstood the wonderful efficacy of Ramanama , and my capacity for suffering was to thatextent less. Besides, I did not know the technique of fasting, especially the necessity of drinkingplenty of water, however nauseating or distasteful it might be. Then the fact that the first fast hadbeen an easy affair had made me rather careless as to the second. Thus during the first I tookKuhne baths every day, but during the second I gave them up after two or three days, and drankvery little water, as it was distasteful and produced nausea. The throat became parched andweak and during the last days I could speak only in a very low voice. In spite of this, however, mywork was carried on through dictation where writing was necessary. I regularly listened toreadings from the Ramayana and other sacred books. I had also sufficient strength to discussand advise in all urgent matters. Chapter 114 TO MEET GOKHALEI must skip many of the recollections of South Africa. At the conclusion of the Satyagrahastruggle in 1914, I received Gokhales instruction to return home via London. So in July Kasturbai,Kallenbach and I sailed for England.During Satyagraha I had begun travelling third class. I therefore took third class passages for thisvoyage. But there was a good deal of difference between third class accommodation on the boaton this route and that provided on Indian coastal boats or railway trains. There is hardly sufficientsitting, much less sleeping, accommodation in the Indian service, and little cleanliness. During thevoyage to London, on the other hand, there was enough room and cleanliness, and thesteamship company had provided special facilities for us. The company had provided reservedcloset accommodation for us, and as we were fruitarians, the steward had orders to supply uswith fruits and nuts. As a rule third class passengers get little fruit or nuts. These facilities madeour eighteen days on the boat quite comfortable.Some of the incidents during the voyage are well worth recording. Mr. Kallenbach was very fondof binoculars, and had one or two costly pairs. We had daily discussion over one of these. I triedto impress on him that this possession was not in keeping with the ideal of simplicity that weaspired to reach. Our discussions came to a head one day, as we were standing near theporthole of our cabin.Rather than allow these to be a bone of contention between us, why not throw them into the seaand be done with them? said I.Certainly throw the wretched things away. said Mr. Kallenbach.I mean it, said I.So do I, quickly came the reply.
  183. And forthwith I flung them into the sea. They were worth some £7, but their value lay less in theirprice than in Mr. Kallenbachs infatuation for them. However, having got rid of them, he neverregretted it.This is out one out of the many incidents that happened between Mr. Kallenbach and me.Every day we had to learn something new in this way, for both of us were trying to tread the pathof Truth. In the march towards Truth, anger, selfishness, hatred, etc., naturally give way, forotherwise Truth would be impossible to attain. A man who is swayed by passions may have goodenough intentions, may be truthful in word, but he will never find the Truth. A successful searchfor Truth means complete deliverance from the dual throng such as of love and hate, happinessand misery.Not much time had elapsed since my fast when we started on our voyage. I had not regained mynormal strength. I used to stroll on duck to get a little exercise, so as to revive my appetite anddigest what I ate. But even this exercise was beyond me, causing pain in the calves, so much sothat on reaching London I found that I was worse rather than better. There I came to know Dr.Jivraj Mehta. I gave him the history of my fast and subsequent pain, and he said, If you do nottake complete rest for a few days, there is a fear of your legs going out of use.It was then that I learned that a man emerging from a long fast should not be in a hurry to regainlost strength, and should also put a curb on his appetite. More caution and perhaps more restraintare necessary in breaking a fast than in keeping it.In Madeira we heard that the great War might break out at any moment. As we entered theEnglish Channel, we received the news of its actual outbreak. We were stopped for some time. Itwas a difficult business to tow the boat through the submarine mines which had been laidthroughout the Channel, and it took about two days to reach Southampton.War was declared on the 4th of August. We reached London on the 6th. Chapter 115 MY PART IN THE WAROn arrival in England I learned that Gokhale had been stranded in Paris where he had gone forreasons of health, and as communication between Paris and London had been cut off, there wasno knowing when he would return. I did not want to go home without having seen him, but no onecould say definitely when he would arrive.What then was I to do in the meanwhile? What was my duty as regards the war? SorabjiAdajania, my comrade in jail and a Satyagrahi, was then reading for the bar in London. As one ofthe best Satyagrahis he had been sent to England to qualify himself as a barrister, so that hemight take my place on return to South Africa. Dr. Pranjivandas Mehta was paying his expenses.With him, and through him, I had conferences with Dr. Jivraj Mehta and others who wereprosecuting their studies in England. In consultation with them, a meeting of the Indian residentsin Great Britain and Ireland was called. I placed my views before them.
  184. I felt that Indians residing in England ought to do their bit in the war. English students hadvolunteered to serve in the army, and Indians might do no less. A number of objections weretaken to this line of argument. There was, it was contended, a world of difference between theIndians and the English. We were salves and they were masters. How could a slave co-operatewith the master in the hour of the latters need? Was it not the duty of the slave, seeking to befree, to make the masters need his opportunity? This argument failed to appeal to me then. Iknew the difference of status between an Indian and an Englishman, but I did not believe that wehad been quite reduced to slavery. I felt then that it was more the fault of individual British officialsthan of the British system, and that we could convert them by love. If we would improve our statusthrough the help and co-operation of the British, it was our duty to win their help by standing bythem in their hour of need. Though the system was faulty, it did not seem to me to be intolerable,as it does today. But if, having lost my faith in the system, I refuse to co-operate with the BritishGovernment today, how could those friends then do so, having lost their faith not only in thesystem but in the officials as well?The opposing friends felt that was the hour for making a bold declaration of Indian demands andfor improving the status of Indians.I thought that Englands need should not be turned into our opportunity, and that it was morebecoming and far-sighted not to press our demands while the war lasted. I therefore adhered tomy advice and invited those who would to enlist as volunteers. There was a good response,practically all the provinces and all the religions being represented among the volunteers.I wrote a letter to Lord Crewe, acquainting him with these facts, and expressing our readiness tobe trained for ambulance work, if that should be considered a condition precedent to theacceptance of our offer.Lord Crewe accepted the offer after some hesitation, and thanked us for having tendered ourservices to the Empire at that critical hour.The volunteers began their preliminary training in first aid to the wounded under the well-knownDr.Cantlie. It was a short course of six weeks, but it covered the whole course of first aid.We were a class of about 80. In six weeks we were examined, and all except one passed. Forthese the Government now provided military drill and other training. Colonel Baker was placed incharge of this work.London in these days was a sight worth seeing. There was no panic, but all were busy helping tothe best of their ability. Able-bodied adults began training as combatants, but what were the old,the infirm and the women to do? There was enough work for them, if they wanted. So theyemployed themselves in cutting and making clothes and dressings for the wounded.The Lyceum, a ladies club, undertook to make as many clothes for the soldiers as they could.Shrimati Sarojini Naidu was a member of this club, and threw herself whole-heartedly into thework. This was my first acquaintance with her. She placed before me a heap of clothes which hadbeen cut to pattern, and asked me to get them all sewn up and return them to her. I welcomedher demand and with the assistance of friends got as many clothes made as I could manageduring my training for first aid.
  185. Chapter 116 A SPIRITUAL DILEMMAAs soon as the news reached South Africa that I along with other Indians had offered myservices in the war, I received two cables. One of these was from Mr. Polak who questioned theconsistency of my action with my profession of ahimsa .I had to a certain extent anticipated this objection, for I had discussed the question in my HindSwaraj or Indian Home Rule , and used to discuss it day in and day out with friends in SouthAfrica. All of us recognized the immorality of war.If I was not prepared to prosecute my assailant,much less should I be willing to participate in a war, especially when I knew nothing of the justiceor otherwise of the cause of the combatants. Friends of course knew that I had previously servedin the Boer War, but they assumed that my views had since undergone a change.As a matter of fact the very same line of argument that persuaded me to take part in the BoerWar had weighed with me on this occasion. It was quite clear to me that participation in war couldnever be consistent with ahimsa . But it is not always given to one to be equally clear about onesduty. A votary of truth is often obliged to grope in the dark.Ahimsa is a comprehensive principle. We are helpless mortals caught in the conflagration ofhimsa . The saying that life lives on life has a deep meaning in it. Man cannot for a moment livewithout consciously or unconsciously committing outward himsa . The very fact of his livingeating, drinking and moving about necessarily involves some himsa , destruction of life, be it everso minute. A votary of ahimsa therefore remains true to his faith if the spring of all his actions iscompassion, if he shuns to the best of his ability the destruction of the tiniest creature, tries tosave it, and thus incessantly strives to be free from the deadly coil of himsa . He will be constantlygrowing in self-restraint and compassion, but he can never become entirely free from outwardhimsa .Then again, because underlying ahimsa is the unity of all life, the error of one cannot but affectall, and hence man cannot be wholly free from himsa . So long as he continues to be a socialbeing, he cannot but participate in the himsa that the very existence of society involves. Whentwo nations are fighting, the duty of a votary of ahimsa is to stop the war. He who is not equal tothat duty, he who has no power of resisting war, he who is not qualified to resist war, may takepart in war, and yet whole-heartedly try to free himself, his nation and the world from war.I had hoped to improve status and that of my people through the British Empire. Whilst in EnglandI was enjoying the protection of the British Fleet, and taking shelter as I did under its armed might,I was directly participating in its potential violence. Therefore if I desired to retain my connectionwith the Empire and to live under its banner, one of three courses was open to me: I coulddeclare open resistance to the war and, in accordance with the law of Satyagraha, boycott theEmpire until it changed its military policy; or I could seek imprisonment by civil disobedience ofsuch of its laws as were fit to be disobeyed; or I could participate in the war on the side of theEmpire and thereby acquire the capacity and fitness for resisting the violence of war. I lacked thiscapacity and fitness, as I thought there was nothing for it but to serve in the war.I make no distinction, from the point of view of ahimsa , between combatants and non-combatants. He who volunteers to serve a band of dacoits, by working as their carrier, or theirwatchman while they are about their business, or their nurse when they are wounded, is as muchguilty of dacoity as the dacoits themselves. In the same way those who confine themselves toattending to the wounded in battle cannot be absolved from the guilt of war.
  186. I had argued the whole thing out to myself in this manner, before I received Polaks cable, andsoon after its receipt, I discussed these views with several friends and concluded that it was myduty to offer to serve in the war. Even today I see no flaw in that line of argument, nor am I sorryfor my action, holding, as I then did, views favourable to the British connection.I know that even then I could not carry conviction with all my friends about the correctness of myposition. The question is subtle. It admits of differences of opinion, and therefore I have submittedmy argument as clearly as possible to those who believe in ahimsa and who are making seriousefforts to practise it in every walk of life. A devotee of Truth may not do anything in deference toconvention. He must always hold himself open to correction, and whenever he discovers himselfto be wrong he must confess it at all costs and atone for it. Chapter 117 MINIATURE SATYAGRAHAThough I thus took part in the war as a matter of duty, it chanced that I was not only unabledirectly to participate in it, but actually compelled to offer what may be called miniatureSatyagraha even at that critical juncture.I have already said that an officer was appointed in charge of our training, as soon as our nameswere approved and enlisted. We were all under the impression that this Commanding Officer wasto be our chief only so far as technical matters were concerned, and that in all other matters I wasthe head of our Corps, which was directly responsible to me in matters of internal discipline; thatis to say, the Commanding Officer had to deal with the Corps through me. But from the first theOfficer left us under no much delusion.Mr. Sorabji Adajania was a shrewd man. He warned me. Beware of this man, he said. Heseems inclined to lord it over us. We will have none of his orders. We are prepared to look uponhim as our instructor. But the youngsters he has appointed to instruct us also feel as though theyhad come as our masters.These youngsters were Oxford students who had come to instruct us and whom theCommanding Officer had appointed to be our section leaders.I also had not failed to notice the high-handedness of the Commanding Officer, but I askedSorabji not to be anxious and tried to pacify him. But he was not the man to be easily convinced.You are too trusting. Those people will deceive you with wretched words, and when at last yousee through them, you will ask us to resort to Satyagraha, and so come to grief, and bring us allto grief along with you, said he with a smile.What else but grief can you hope to come to after having cast in your lot with me? said I. ASatyagrahi is born to be deceived. Let the Commanding Officer deceive us. Have I not told youtimes without number that ultimately a deceiver only deceives himself?Sorabji gave a loud laugh. Well, then, said he, continue to be deceived. You will some day meetyour death in Satyagraha and drag poor mortals like me behind you.
  187. These words put me in mind of what the late Miss Emily Hobhouse wrote to me with regard tonon-co-operation: I should not be surprised if one of these days you have to go to the gallows forthe sake of truth. May God show you the right path and protect you.The talk with Sorabji took place just after the appointment of the Commanding Officer. In a veryfew days our relations with him reached the breaking point. I had hardly regained my strengthafter the fourteen days fast, when I began to take part in the drill, often walking to the appointedplace about two miles from home. This gave me pleurisy and laid me low. In this condition I hadto go week-end camping. Whilst the others stayed there, I returned home. It was here that anoccasion arose for Satyagraha.The Commanding Officer began to exercise his authority somewhat freely. He gave us clearly tounderstand that he was our head in all matters, military and non-military, giving us at the sametime a taste of his authority. Sorabji hurried to me. He was not at all prepared to put up with thishigh-handedness. He said: We must have all orders through you. We are still in the trainingcamp and all sorts of absurd orders are being issued. Invidious distinctions are made betweenourselves and those youths who have been appointed to instruct us. We must have it out with theCommanding Officer, otherwise we shall not be able to go on any longer. The Indian studentsand others who have joined our Corps are not going to abide by any absurd orders. In a causewhich has been taken up for the sake of self-respect, it is unthinkable to put up with loss of it.I approached the Commanding Officer and drew his attention to the complaints I had received.He wrote asking me to set out the complaints in writing, at the same time asking me to impressupon those who complain that the proper direction in which to make complaints is to me throughtheir section commanders, now appointed, who will inform me through the instructors.To this I replied saying that I claimed no authority, that in the military sense I was no more thanany other private, but that I had believed that as Chairman of the Volunteer Corps, I should beallowed unofficially to act as their representative. I also set out the grievances and requests thathad been brought to my notice, namely, that grievous dissatisfaction had been caused by theappointment of section leaders without reference to the feeling of the members of the Corps; thatthey be recalled, and the Corps be invited to elect section leaders, subject to the Commandersapproval.This did not appeal to the Commanding Officer, who said it was repugnant to all military disciplinethat the section leaders should be elected by the Corps, and that the recall of appointmentsalready made would be subversive of all discipline.So we held a meeting and decided upon withdrawal. I brought home to the members the seriousconsequences of Satyagraha. But a very large majority voted for the resolution, which was to theeffect that, unless the appointments of Corporals already made were recalled and the membersof the Corps given an opportunity of electing their own Corporals, the members would be obligedto abstain from further drilling and week-end camping.I then addressed a letter to the Commanding Officer telling him what a severe disappointment hisletter rejecting my suggestion had been. I assured him that I was most anxious to serve. I alsodrew his attention to a precedent. I pointed out that, although I occupied no official rank in theSouth African Indian Ambulance Corps at the time of the Boer War, there was never a hitchbetween Colonel Gallwey and the Corps, and the Colonel never took a step without reference tome with a view to ascertain the wishes of the Corps. I also enclosed a copy of the resolution wehad passed the previous evening.This had no good effect on the Officer, who felt that the meeting and the resolution were a gravebreach of discipline.
  188. Hereupon I addressed a letter to the Secretary of State for India, acquainting him with all the factsand enclosing a copy of the resolution. He replied explaining that conditions in South Africa weredifferent, and drawing my attentions to the fact that under the rules the section commanders wereappointed by the Commanding Officer, but assuring me that in future, when appointing sectioncommanders, the Commanding Officer would consider my recommendations.A good deal of correspondence passed between us after this, but I do not want to prolong thebitter tale. Suffice it to say that my experience was of a piece with the experiences we daily havein India. What with threats and what with adroitness the Commanding Officer succeeded increating a division in our Corps. Some of those who had voted for the resolution yielded to theCommanders threats or persuasions and wen back on their promise.About this time an unexpectedly large contingent of wounded soldiers arrived at the NetleyHospital, and the services of our Corps were requisitioned. Those whom the Commanding Officercould persuade went to Netley. The others refused to go. I was on my back, but was incommunication with the members of the Corps. Mr. Roberts, the Under- Secretary of State,honoured me with many calls during those days. He insisted on my persuading the others toserve. He suggested that they should form a separate Corps and that at the Netley Hospital theycould be responsible only to the Commanding Officer there, so that there would be no question ofloss of self-respect, Government would be placated, and at same time helpful service would berendered to the large number of wounded received at the hospital. This suggestion appealed bothto my companions and to me, with the result that those who had stayed away also went to Netley.Only I remained away, lying on my back and making the best of a bad job. Chapter 118 GOKHALES CHARITYI have already referred to the attack of pleurisy I had in England. Gokhale returned to Londonsoon after. Kallenbach and I used regularly to go to him. Our talks were mostly about the war,and as Kallenbach had the geography of Germany at his finger tips, and had travelled much inEurope, he used to show him on the map the various places in connection with the war.When I got pleurisy this also became a topic of daily discussion. My dietetic experiments weregoing on even then. My diet consisted, among other things, of groundnuts, ripe and unripebananas, lemon, olive oil, tomatoes and grapes. I completely eschewed milk, cereals, pulses andother things.Dr. Jivraj Mehta treated me. He pressed me hard to resume milk and cereals, but I was obdurate.The matter reached Gokhales ears. He had not much regard for my reasoning in favour of afruitarian diet, and he wanted me to take whatever the doctor prescribed for my health.It was no easy thing for me not a yield to Gokhales pressure. When he would not take a refusal, Ibegged him to give me twenty-four hours for thinking over the question. As Kallenbach and Ireturned home that evening, we discussed where my duty lay. He had been with me in myexperiment. He liked it, but I saw that he was agreeable to my giving it up if my health demandedit. So I had to decide for myself according to the dictates of the inner voice.
  189. I spent the whole night thinking over the matter. To give up the experiment would meanrenouncing all my ideas in that direction, and yet I found no flaw in them. The question was howfar I should yield to Gokhales loving pressure, and how far I might modify my experiment in theso-called interests of health. I finally decided to adhere to the experiment in so far as the motivebehind was chiefly religious, and to yield to the doctors advice where the motive was mixed.Religious considerations had been predominant in the giving up of milk. I had before me a pictureof the wicked processes the govals in Calcutta adopted to extract the last drop of milk from theircows and buffaloes. I also had the feeling that, just as meat was not mans food, even so animalsmilk could not be mans food. So I got up in the morning with the determination to adhere to myresolve to abstain from milk. This greatly relieved me. I dreaded to approach Gokhale, but Itrusted him to respect my decision.In the evening Kallenbach and I called on Gokhale at the National Liberal Club. The first questionhe asked me was: Well, have you decided to accept the doctors advice?I gently but firmly replied: I am willing to yield on all points except one about which I beg you notto press me. I will not take milk, milk-products or meat. If not to take these things should mean mydeath, I feel I had better face it.Is this your final decision? asked Gokhlae.I am afraid I cannot decide otherwise, said I. I know that my decision will pain you, but I begyour forgiveness.With a certain amount of pain but with deep affection, Gokhale said: I do not approve of yourdecision. I do not see any religion in it. But I wont press you any more. With these words heturned to Dr. Jivraj Mehta and said: Please dont worry him any more. Prescribe anything you likewithin the limit he has set for himself.The doctor expressed dissent, but was helpless. He advised me to take mung soup., with a dashof asafoetida in it. To this I agreed. I took it for a day or two, but it increased my pain. As I did notfind it suitable, I went back to fruits and nuts. The doctor of course went on with his externaltreatment. The latter somewhat relieved my pain, but my restrictions were to him a sore handicap.Meanwhile Gokhale left for home, as he could not stand the October fogs of London. Chapter 119 TREATMENT OF PLEURISYThe persistence of the pleurisy caused some anxiety, but I knew that the cure lay not in takingmedicine internally but in dietetic changes assisted by external remedies.I called in Dr. Allinson of vegetarian fame, who treated diseases by dietetic modifications andwhom I had met in 1890. He thoroughly overhauled me. I explained to him how I had pledgedmyself not to take milk. He cheered me up and said: You need not take milk. In fact I want you todo without any fat for some days. He then advised me to live on plain brown bread, rawvegetables such as beet, radish, onion and other tubers and greens, and also fresh fruit, mainly
  190. oranges. The vegetables were not to be cooked but merely grated fine, if I could not masticatethem.I adopted this for about three days, but raw vegetables did not quite suit me. My body was not ina condition to enable me to do full justice to the experiment. I was nervous about taking rawvegetables.Dr. Allinson also advised me to keep all the windows of my room open for the whole twenty-fourhours, bathe in tepid water, have an oil massage on the affected parts and a walk in the open forfifteen to thirty minutes. I liked all these suggestions.My room had French windows which, if kept wide open, would let in the rain. The fanlight couldnot be opened. I therefore got the glass broken, so as to let in fresh air, and I partially opened thewindows in a manner not to let in rain.All these measures somewhat improved my health, but did not completely cure me.Lady Cecilia Roberts occasionally called on me. We became friends. She wanted very much topersuade me to take milk. But as I was unyielding, she hunted about for a substitute for milk.Some friend suggested to her malted milk, assuring her quite unknowingly that it was absolutelyfree from milk, and that it was a chemical preparation with all the properties of milk. Lady Cecilia, Iknew, had a great regard for my religious scruples, and so I implicitly trusted her. I dissolved thepowder in water and took it only to find that it tasted just like milk. I read the label on the bottle, tofind, only too late, that it was a preparation of milk. So I gave it up.I informed Lady Cecilia about the discovery, asking her not to worry over it. She came post hasteto me to say how sorry she was. Her friend had not read the label at all. I begged her not to beanxious and expressed my regret that I could not avail myself of the thing she had procured withso much trouble. I also assured her that I did not at all feel upset or guilty over having taken milkunder a misapprehension.I must skip over many other sweet reminiscences of my contact with Lady Cecilia. I could think ofmany friends who have been a source of great comfort to me in the midst of trials anddisappointments. One who has faith reads in them the merciful providence of God, who thussweetens sorrow itself.Dr. Allinson, when he next called, relaxed his restrictions and permitted me to have groundnutbutter or olive oil for the sake of fat, and to take the vegetables cooked, if I chose, with rice.These changes were quite welcome, but they were far from giving me a complete cure. Verycareful nursing was still necessary, and I was obliged to keep mostly in bed.Dr. Mehta occasionally looked in to examine me and held out a standing offer to cure me if only Iwould listen to his advice.Whilst things were going on in this way, Mr, Roberts one day came to see me and urged me verystrongly to go home. You cannot possibly go to Netley in this condition. There is still severer coldahead of us. I would strongly advise you to get back to India, for it is only there that you can becompletely cured. If, after your recovery, you should find the war still going on, you will havemany opportunities there of rendering help. As it is, I do not regard what you have already doneas by any means a mean contribution.I accepted his advice and began to make preparations for returning to India.
  191. Chapter 120 HOMEWARDM r. Kallenbach had accompained me to England with a view to going to India. We werestaying together and of course wanted to sail by the same boat. Germans, however, were undersuch strict surveillance that we had our doubts about Mr. Kallenbach getting a passport. I did mybest to get it, and Mr. Roberts, who was in favour of his getting his passport, sent a cable to theViceroy in this behalf. But straight came Lord Hardinges reply: Regret Government of India notprepared to take any such risk. All of us understood the force of the reply.It was a great wrench for me to part from Mr. Kallenbach, but I could see that his pang wasgreater. Could he have come to India, he would have been leading today the simple happy life ofa farmer and weaver. Now he is in South Africa, leading his old life and doing brisk business asan architect.We wanted a third class passage, but as there was none available on P. and O. boats, we had togo second.We took with us the dried fruit we had carried from South Africa, as most of it would not beprocurable on the boat, where fresh fruit was easily available.Dr. Jivraj Mehta had bandaged my ribs with Medes Plaster and had asked me not to remove ittill we reached the Red Sea. For two days I put up with the discomfort, but finally it became toomuch for me. It was with considerable difficulty that I managed to undo the plaster and regain theliberty of having a proper wash and bath.My diet consisted mostly of nuts and fruits. I found that I was improving every day and felt verymuch better by the time we entered the Suez Canal. I was weak, but felt entirely out of danger,and I gradually went on increasing my exercise. The improvement I attributed largely to the pureair of the temperate zone.Whether it was due to past experience or to any other reason, I do not know, but the kind ofdistance I noticed between the English and Indian passengers on the boat was something I hadnot observed even on my voyage from South Africa. I did talk to a few Englishmen, but the talkwas mostly formal. There were hardly any cordial conversations such as had certainly takenplace on the South African boats. The reason for this was, I think, to be found in the conscious orunconscious feeling at the back of the Englishmans mind that he belonged to the ruling race, andthe feeling at the back of the Indians mind that he belonged to the subject race.I was eager to reach home and get free from this atmosphere.On arriving at Aden we already began to feel somewhat at home. We knew the Adenwallas verywell, having met Mr. Kekobad Kavasji Dinshaw in Durban and come in close contact with him andhis wife.A few days more and we reached Bombay. It was such a joy to get back to the homeland after anexile of ten years.
  192. Gokhale had inspired a reception for me in Bombay, where he had come in spite of his delicatehealth. I had approached India in the ardent hope of merging myself in him, and thereby feelingfree. But fate had willed it otherwise. Chapter 121 SOME REMINISCENCES OF THE BARBefore coming to a narrative of the course my life took in India, it seems necessary to recall afew of the South African experiences which I have deliberately left out.Some lawyer friends have asked me to give my reminiscences of the bar. The number of these isso large that, if I were to describe them all, they would occupy a volume by themselves and takeme out of my scope. But it may not perhaps be improper to recall some of those which bear uponthe practice of truth.So far as I can recollect, I have already said that I never resorted to untruth in my profession, andthat a large part of my legal practice was in the interest of public work, for which I charged nothingbeyond out-of-pocket expenses, and these too I sometimes met myself. I had thought that insaying this I had said all that was necessary as regards my legal practice. But friends want me todo more. They seem to think that, if I described however slightly, some of the occasions when Irefused to swerve from the truth, the legal profession might profit by it.As a student I had heard that the lawyers profession was a liars profession. But this did notinfluence me, as I had no intention of earning either position or money by lying.My principle was put to the test many a time in South Africa. Often I knew that my opponents hadtutored their witnesses, and if I only encouraged my client or his witnesses to lie, we could win thecase. But I always resisted the temptation. I remember only one occasion when, after having wona case, I suspected that my client had deceived me. In my heart of hearts I always wished that Ishould win only if my clients case was right. In fixing my fees I do not recall ever having madethem conditional on my winning the case. Whether my client won or lost, I expected nothing morenor less than my fees.I warned every new client at the outset that he should not expect me to take up a false case or tocoach the witnesses, with the result that I built up such a reputation that no false cases used tocome to me. Indeed some of my clients would keep their clean cases for me, and take thedoubtful ones elsewhere.There was one case which proved a severe trial. It was brought to me by one of my best clients. Itwas a case of highly complicated accounts and had been a prolonged one. It had been heard inparts before several courts. Ultimately the book-keeping portion of it was entrusted by the court tothe arbitration of some qualified accountants. The award was entirely in favour of my client, butthe arbitrators had inadvertently committed an error in calculation which, however small, wasserious, inasmuch as an entry which ought to have been on the debit side was made on the creditside. The opponents had opposed the award on other grounds. I was junior counsel for my client.When the senior counsel became aware of the error, he was of opinion that our client was notbound to admit it. He was clearly of opinion that no counsel was bound to admit anything thatwent against his clients interest. I said we ought to admit the error.
  193. But the senior counsel contended: In that case there is every likelihood of the court cancelling thewhole award, and no sane counsel would imperil his clients case to that extent. At any rate Iwould be the last man to take any such risk. If the case were to be sent up for a fresh hearing,one could never tell what expenses our client might have to incur, and what the ultimate resultmight be!The client was present when this conversation took place.I said : I feel that both our client and we ought to run the risk. Where is the certainty of the courtupholding a wrong award simply because we do not admit the error? And supposing theadmission were to bring the client to grief, what harm is there?But why should we make the admission at all? said the senior counsel.Where is the surety of the court not detecting the error or our opponent not discovering it? said I.Well then, will you argue the case? I am not prepared to argue it on your terms, replied thesenior counsel with decision.I humbly answered: If you will not argue, then I am prepared to do so, if our client so desires. Ishall have nothing to do with the case if the error is not admitted.With this I looked at my client. He was a little embarrassed. I had been in the case from the veryfirst. The client fully trusted me, and knew me through and through. He said: Well, then, you willargue the case and admit the error. Let us lose, if that is to be our lot. God defend the right.I was delighted. I had expected nothing less from him. The senior counsel again warned me,pitied me for my obduracy, but congratulated me all the same. What happened in the court weshall see in the next chapter. Chapter 122 SHARP PRACTICE?I had no doubt about the soundness of my advice, but I doubted very much my fitness for doingfull justice to the case. I felt it would be a most hazardous undertaking to argue such a difficultcase before the Supreme Court, and I appeared before the Bench in fear and trembling.As soon as I referred to the error in the accounts, one of the judges said:Is not this sharp practice, Mr. Gandhi?I boiled within to hear this charge. It was intolerable to be accused of sharp practice when therewas not the slightest warrant for it.With a judge prejudiced from the start like this, there is little chance of success in this difficultcase, I said to myself. But I composed my thoughts and answered:
  194. I am surprised that your Lordship should suspect sharp practice without hearing me out.No question of a charge, said the judge. It is a mere suggestion.The suggestion here seems to me to amount to a charge. I would ask your Lordship to hear meout and then arraign me if there is any occasion for it.I am sorry to have interrupted you, replied the judge. Pray do go on with your explanation of thediscrepancy.I had enough material in support of my explanation. Thanks to the judge having raised thisquestion, I was able to rivet the Courts attention on my argument from the very start. I felt muchencouraged and took the opportunity of entering into a detailed explanation. The Court gave me apatient hearing, and I was able to convince the judges that the discrepancy was due entirely toinadvertence. They therefore did not feel disposed to cancel the whole award, which had involvedconsiderable labour.The opposing counsel seemed to feel secure in the belief that not much argument would beneeded after the error had been admitted. But the judges continued to interrupt him, as they wereconvinced that the error was a slip which could be easily rectified. The counsel laboured hard toattack the award, but the judge who had originally started with the suspicion had now come rounddefinitely to my side.Supposing Mr. Gandhi had not admitted the error, what would you have done? he asked.It was impossible for us to secure the services of a more competent and honest expertaccountant than the one appointed by us.The Court must presume that you know your case best. If you cannot point out anything beyondthe slip which any expert accountant is liable to commit, the Court will be loath to compel theparties to go in for fresh litigation and fresh expenses because of a patent mistake. We may notorder a fresh hearing when such an error can be easily corrected continued the judge.And so the counsels objection was overruled. The Court either confirmed the award, with theerror rectified, or ordered the arbitrator to rectify the error, I forget which.I was delighted. So were my client and senior counsel; and I was confirmed in my conviction thatit was not impossible to practise law without compromising truth.Let the reader, however, remember that even truthfulness in the practice of the profession cannotcure it of the fundamental defect that vitiates it. Chapter 123 CLIENTS TURNED CO-WORKERST he distinction between the legal practice in Natal and that in the Transvaal was that in Natalthere was a joint bar; a barrister, whilst he was admitted to the rank of advocate, could also
  195. practise as an attorney; whereas in the Transvaal, as in Bombay, the spheres of attorneys andadvocates were distinct. A barrister had the right of election whether he would practise as anadvocate or as an attorney. So whilst in Natal I was admitted as an advocate, in the Transvaal Isought admission as an attorney. For as an advocate I could not have come in direct contact withthe Indians and the white attorneys in South Africa would not have briefed me.But even in the Transvaal it was open to attorneys to appear before magistrates. On oneoccasion, whilst I was conducting a case before a magistrate in Johannesburg, I discovered thatmy client had deceived me. I saw him completely break down in the witness box. So without anyargument I asked the magistrate to dismiss the case. The opposing counsel was astonished, andthe magistrate was pleased. I rebuked my client for bringing a false case to me. He knew that Inever accepted false cases, and when I brought the thing home to him, he admitted his mistake,and I have an impression that he was not angry with me for having asked the magistrate todecide against him. At any rate my conduct in this case did not affect my practice for the worse,indeed it made my work easier. I also saw that my devotion to truth enhanced my reputationamongst the members of the profession, and in spite of the handicap of colour I was able in somecases to win even their affection.During my professional work it was also my habit never to conceal my ignorance from my clientsor my colleagues. Wherever I felt myself at sea, I would advise my client to consult some othercounsel, or if he preferred to stick to me, I would ask him to let me seek the assistance of seniorcounsel. This frankness earned me the unbounded affection and trust of my clients. They werealways willing to pay the fee whenever consultation with senior counsel was necessary. Thisaffection and trust served me in good stead in my public work.I have indicated in the foregoing chapters that my object in practising in South Africa was serviceof the community. Even for this purpose, winning the confidence of the people was anindispensable condition. The large hearted Indian magnified into service professional work donefor money, and when I advised them to suffer the hardships of imprisonment for the sake of theirrights, many of them cheerfully accepted the advice, not so much because they had reasoned outthe correctness of the course, as because of their confidence in, and affection for, me.As I write this, many a sweet reminiscence comes to my mind. Hundreds of clients becamefriends and real co-workers in public service, and their association sweetened a life that wasotherwise full of difficulties and dangers. Chapter 124 HOW A CLIENT WAS SAVEDThe reader, by now, will be quite familiar with Parsi Rustomjis name. He was one who becameat once my client and co-worker, or perhaps it would be truer to say that he first became co-worker and then client. I won his confidence to such an extent that he sought and followed myadvice also in private domestic matters. Even when he was ill, he would seek my aid, and thoughthere was much difference between our ways of living, he did not hesitate to accept my quacktreatment.This friend once got into a very bad scrape. Though he kept me informed of most of his affairs, hehad studiously kept back one thing. He was a large importer of goods from Bombay and Calcutta,
  196. and not infrequently he resorted to smuggling. But as he was on the best terms with customsofficials, no one was inclined to suspect him. In charging duty, they used to take his invoices ontrust. Some might even have connived at the smuggling.But to use the telling simile of the Gujarati poet Akho, theft like quicksilver wont be suppressed,and Parsi Rustomjis proved no exception. The good friend ran post haste to me, the tears rollingdown his cheeks as he said: Bhai, I have deceived you. My guilt has been discovered today. Ihave smuggled and I am doomed. I must go to jail and be ruined. You alone may be able to saveme from this predicament. I have kept back nothing else from you, but I thought I ought not tobother you with such tricks of the trade, and so I never told you about this smuggling. But now,how much I repent it!I calmed him and said: To save or not to save you is in His hands. As to me you know my way. Ican but try to save you by means of confession.The good Parsi felt deeply mortified.But is not my confession before you enough? he asked.You have wronged not me but Government. How will the confession made before me avail you?I replied gently.Of course I will do just as you advise, but will you not consult with my old counsel Mr.---? He is afriend too, said Parsi Rustomji.Inquiry revealed that the smuggling had been going on for a long time, but the actual offencedetected involved a trifling sum. We went to his counsel. He perused the papers, and said: Thecase will be tried by a jury, and a Natal jury will be the last to acquit an Indian. But I will not giveup hope.I did not know this counsel intimately. Parsi Rustomji intercepted: I thank you, but I should like tobe guided by Mr. Gandhis advice in this case. He knows me intimately. Of course you will advisehim whenever necessary.Having thus shelved the counsels question, we went to Parsi Rustomjis shop.And now explaining my view I said to him: I dont think this case should be taken to court at all. Itrests with the Customs Officer to prosecute you or to let you go, and he in turn will have to beguided by the Attorney General. I am prepared to meet both. I propose that you should offer topay the penalty that fix, and the odds are that they will be agreeable. But if they are not, you mustbe prepared to go to jail. I am of opinion that the shame lies not so much in going to jail as incommitting the offence. The deed of shame has already been done. Imprisonment you shouldregard as a penance. The real penance lies in resolving never to smuggle again.I cannot say that Parsi Rustomji took all this quite well. He was a brave man, but his couragefailed him for the moment. His name and fame were at stake, and where would he be if theedifice he had reared with such care and labour should go to pieces?Well, I have told you, he said, that I am entirely in your hands. You may do just as you like.I brought to bear on this case all my powers of persuasion. I met the Customs Officer andfearlessly apprised him of the whole affair. I also promised to place all the books at his disposaland told him how penitent Parsi Rustomji was feeling
  197. The Customs Officer said: I like the old Parsi. I am sorry he has made a fool of himself. Youknow where my duty lies. I must be guided by the Attorney General and so I would advise you touse all your persuasion with him.I shall be thankful, said I, if you do not insist on dragging him into court.Having got him to promise this, I entered into correspondence with the Attorney General and alsomet him. I am glad to say that he appreciated my complete frankness and was convinced that Ihad kept back nothing.I now forget whether it was in connection with this or with some other case that my persistenceand frankness extorted from him the remark: I see you will never take a no for an answer.The case against Parsi Rustomji was compromised.He was to pay a penalty equal to twice theamount he had confessed to having smuggled. Rustomji reduced to writing the facts of the wholecase, got the paper framed and hung it up in his office to serve as a perpetual reminder to hisheirs and fellow merchants.These friends Rustomji warned me not to be taken in by this transitory contrition. When I toldRustomji about this warning he said: What would be my fate if I deceived you? Chapter 125 THE FIRST EXPERIENCEBefore I reached home, the party which had started from Phoenix had already arrived.According to our original plan I was to have preceded them, but my preoccupation in Englandwith the war had upset all our calculations, and when I saw that I had to be detained in Englandindefinitely, I was faced with the question of finding them all to stay together the Phoenix party. Iwanted them all to stay together in India, if possible, and to live the life they had led at Phoenix. Idid not know of any Ashram to which I could recommend them to go, and therefore cabled tothem to meet Mr. Andrews and do as he advised.So they were first put in the Gurukul, Kangri, where the late Swami Shraddhanandji treated themas his own children. After this they were put in the Shantiniketan Ashram, where the Poet and hispeople showered similar love upon them. The experiences they gathered at both these places toostood them and me in good stead.The Poet, Shraddhanandji and Principal Sushil Rudra, as I used to say to Andrews, composedhis trinity. When in South Africa he was never tired of speaking of them, and of my many sweetmemories of South Africa, Mr. Andrews talks, day in and day out, of this great trinity, areamongst the sweetest and most vivid. Mr. Andrews naturally put the Phoenix party in touch alsowith Sushil Rudra. Principal Rudra had no Ashram, but he had a home which he placedcompletely at the disposal of the Phoenix family. Within a day of their arrival, his people madethem deal so thoroughly at home that they did not seem to miss Phoenix at all.It was only when I landed in Bombay that I learnt that the Phoenix party was at Shantiniketan. Iwas therefore impatient to meet them as soon as I could after my meeting with Gokhale.
  198. The receptions in Bombay gave me an occasion for offering what might be called a littleSatyagraha.At the party given in my honour at Mr. Jehangir Petits place, I did not dare to speak in Gujarati. Inthose palatial surroundings of dazzling splendour I, who had lived my best life among indenturedlabourers, felt myself a complete rustic. With my Kathiawadi cloak, turban and dhoti, I lookedsomewhat more civilized than I do today, but the pomp and splendour of Mr. Petits mansionmade me feel absolutely out of my element. However, I acquitted myself tolerably well, havingtaken shelter under Sir Pherozeshahs protecting wing.Then there was the Gujarati function. The Gujaratis would not let me go without a reception,which was organized by the late Uttamlal Trivedi. I had acquainted myself with the programmebeforehand. Mr. Jinnah was present, being a Gujarati, I forget whether as president or as theprincipal speaker. He made a short and sweet little speech in English. As far as I remember mostof the other speeches were also in English. When my turn came, I expressed my thanks inGujarati explaining my partiality for Gujarati and Hindustani, and entering my humble protestagainst the use of English in a Gujarati gathering. This I did, not without some hesitation, for I wasafraid lest it should be considered discourteous for an inexperienced man, returned home after along exile, to enter his protest against established practices. But no one seemed tomisunderstand my insistence on replying in Gujarati. In fact I was glad to note that everyoneseemed reconciled to my protest.The meeting thus emboldened me to think that I should not find it difficult to place my new-fangled notions before my countrymen.After a brief stay in Bombay, full of these preliminary experiences, I went to Poona whitherGokhale had summoned me. Chapter 126 WITH GOKHALE IN POONAThe moment I reached Bombay Gokhale sent me word that the Governor was desirous ofseeing me, and that it might be proper for me to respond before I left for Poona. Accordingly Icalled on His Excellency. After the usual inquiries, he said:I ask one thing of you. I would like you to come and see me whenever you propose to take anysteps concerning Government.I replied:I can very easily give the promise, inasmuch as it is my rule, as a Satyagrahi, to understand theviewpoint of the party I propose to deal with, and to try to agree with him as far as may bepossible. I strictly observed the rule in South Africa and I mean to do the same here.Lord Willingdon thanked me and said:
  199. You may come to me whenever you like, and you will see that my Government do not wilfully doanything wrong.To which I replied: It is that faith which sustains me.After this I went to Poona. It is impossible for me to set down all the reminiscences of thisprecious time. Gokhale and the members of the Servants of India Society overwhelmed me withaffection. So far as I recollect, Gokhale had summoned all of them to meet me. I had a frank talkwith them all on every sort of subject.Gokhale was very keen that I should join the Society and so was I. But the members felt that, asthere was a great difference between my ideals and methods of work and theirs, it might not beproper for me to join the Society. Gokhale believed that, in spite of my insistence on my ownprinciples, I was equally ready and able to tolerate theirs.But, he said, the members of the Society have not yet undersrtood your readiness forcompromise. They are tenacious of their principles, and quite independent. I am hoping that theywill accept you, but if they dont you will not for a moment think that they are lacking in respect orlove for you. They are hesitating to take any risk lest their high regard for you should bejeopardized. But whether you are formally admitted as a member or not, I am going to look uponyou as one.I informed Gokhale of my intentions. Whether I was admitted as a member or not, I wanted tohave an Ashram where I could settle down with my Phoenix family, preferably somewhere inGujarat, as, being a Gujarati, I thought I was best fitted to serve the country through servingGujarat. Gokhale liked the idea. He said: You should certainly do so. Whatever may be the resultof your talks with the members, you must look to me for the expenses of the Ashram, which I willregard as my own.My heart overflowed with joy. It was a pleasure to feel free from the responsibility of raising funds,and to realize that I should not be obliged to set about the work all on my own, but that I shouldbe able to count on a sure guide whenever I was in difficulty. This took a great load off my mind.So the late Dr. Dev was summoned and told to open an account for me in the Societys booksand to give me whatever I might require for the Ashram and for public expenses.I now prepared to go to Shantiniketan. On the eve of my departure Gokhale arranged a party ofselected friends, taking good care to order refreshments of my liking, i.e., fruits and nuts. Theparty was held just a few paces from his room, and yet he was hardly in a condition to walkacross and attend it. But his affection for me got the better of him and he insisted on coming. Hecame, but fainted and had to be carried away. Such fainting was not a new thing with him and sowhen he came to, he sent word that we must go on with the party.This party was of course no more than a conversazione in the open space opposite the Societysguesthouse, during which friends had heart-to-heart chats over light refreshments of groundnuts,dates and fresh fruits of the season.But the fainting fit was to be no common event in my life.
  200. Chapter 127 WAS IT A THREAT ?From Poona I went to Rajkot and Porbandar, where I had to meet my brothers widow and otherrelatives.During the Satyagraha in South Africa I had altered my style of dress so as to make it more inkeeping with that of the indentured labourers, and in England also I had adhered to the samestyle for indoor use. For landing in Bombay I had a Kathiawadi suit of clothes consisting of a shirt,a dhoti, a cloak and a white scarf, all made of Indian mill cloth. But as I was to travel third fromBombay, I regarded the scarf and the cloak as too much of an incumbrance, so I shed them, andinvested in an eight-to-ten-annas Kashmiri cap. One dressed in that fashion was sure to passmuster as a poor man.On account of the plague prevailing at that time third class passengers were being medicallyinspected at Viramgam or Wadhwan I forget which. I had slight fever. The inspector on findingthat I had a temperature asked me to report myself to the Medical Officer at Rajkot and noteddown my name.Someone had perhaps sent the information that I was passing through Wadhwan, for the tailorMotilal, a noted public worker of the place, met me at the station. He told me about the Viramgamcustoms, and the hardships railway passengers had to suffer on account of it. I had littleinclination to talk bacause of my fever, and tried to finish with a brief reply which took the form ofa question:Are you prepared to go to jail?I had taken Motilal to be one of those impetuous youths who do not think before speaking. But notso Motilal. He replied with firm deliberation:We will certainly go to jail, provided you lead us. As kathiawadis, we have the first right on you.Of course we do not mean to detain you now, but you must promise to halt here on your return.You will be delighted to see the work and the spirit of our youths, and you may trust us to respondas soon as you summon us.Motilal captivated me. His comrade eulogizing him, said:Our friend is but a tailor. But he is such a master of his profession that he easily earns Rs. 15 amonth which is just what he needs working an hour a day, and gives the rest of his time to publicwork. He leads us all, putting our education to shame.Later I came in close contact with Motilal, and I saw that there was no exaggeration in the eulogy.He made a point of spending some days in the then newly started Ashram every month to teachthe children tailoring and to do some of the tailoring of the Ashram himself. He would talk to meevery day of Viramgam, and the hardships of the passengers, which had become absolutelyunbearable for him. He was cut off in the prime of youth by a sudden illness, and public life atWadhwan suffered without him.On reaching Rajkot, I reported myself to the Medical officer the next morning. I was not unknownthere. The Doctor felt ashamed and was angry with the inspector. This was unnecessary, for the
  201. inspector had only done his duty. He did not know me, and even if he had known me, he shoulddone have otherwise. The Medical Officer would not let me go to him again insisted on sendingan inspector to me instead.Inspection of third class passangers for sanitary reasons is essential on such occasions. If bigmen choose to travel third, whatever their position in life, they must voluntarily submit themselvesto all the regulations that the poor are subject to, and the officials ought to be impartial. Myexperience is that the officials, instead of looking upon third class passengers as fellowmen,regard them as so many sheep. They talk to them contemptuously, and brook no reply orargument. The third class passenger has to obey the official as though he were his servant, andthe letter may with impunity belabour and blackmail him, and book him his ticket only putting himto the greatest possible inconvenience, including often missing the train. All this I have seen withmy own eyes. No reform is possible unless some of the educated and the rich voluntarily acceptthe status of the poor, travel third, refuse to enjoy the amenities denied to the poor and, instead oftaking avoidable hardships, discourtesies and injustice as a matter of course, fight for theirremoval.Wherever I went in Kathiawad I heard complaints about the Viramgam customs hardships. Itherefore decided immediately to make use of Lord Willingdons offer. I collected and read all theliterature available on the subject, convinced myself that the complaints were well founded, andopened correspondence with the Bombay Government. I called on the Private Secretary to LordWillingdon and waited on His Excellency also. The latter expressed his sympathy but shifted theblame on Delhi. If it had been in our hands, we should have removed the cordon long ago. Youshould approach the Government of India, said the secretary.I communicated with the Government of India, but got no reply beyond an acknowledgment. Itwas only when I had an occasion to meet Lord Chelmsford later that redress could be had. WhenI placed the facts before him, he expressed his astonishment. He had known nothing of thematter. He gave me a patient hearing, telephoned that very moment for papers about Viramgam,and promised to remove the cordon if the authorities had no explanation or defence to offer.Within a few days of this interview I read in the papers that the Viramgam customs cordon hadbeen removed.I regarded this event as the advent of Satyagraha in India. For during my interview with theBombay Government the Secretary had expressed his disapproval of a reference to Satyagrahain a speech which I had delivered in Bagasra (in Kathiawad).Is not this a threat? he had asked. And do you think a powerful Government will yield tothreats?This was no threat, I had replied. It was educating the people. It is my duty to place before thepeople all the legitimate remedies for grievances. A nation that wants to come into its own oughtto know all the ways and means to freedom. Usually they include violence as the last remedy.Satyagraha, on the other hand, is an absolutely non- violent weapon. I regard it as my duty toexplain its practice and its limitations. I have no doubt that the British Government is a powerfulGovernment, but I have no doubt also that Satyagraha is a sovereign remedy.The clever Secretary sceptically nodded his head and said: We shall see.
  202. Chapter 128 SHANTINIKETANFrom Rajkot I proceeded to Shantiniketan. The teachers and students overwhelmed me withaffection. The reception was a beautiful combination of simplicity, art and love. It was here I metKakasaheb Kalelkar for the first time.I did not know then why Kalelkar was called Kakasaheb. But I learnt later on that Sjt. KeshavraoDeshpande, who was a contemporary and a close friend of mine in England, and who hadconducted a school in the Baroda State called Ganganath Vidyalaya, had given the teachersfamily names with a view to investing the Vidyalaya with a family atmosphere. Sjt. Kalelkar whowas a teacher there came to be called, Kaka (lit. paternal uncle). Phadke was called Mama (lit.maternal uncle), and Harihar Sharma received the name Anna (lit. brother). Others also gotsimilar names. Anandanand (Swami) as Kakas friend and Patwardhan (Appa) as Mamas friendlater joined the family, and all in course of time became my co-workers one after another. Sjt.Deshpande himself used to be called Saheb. When the Vidyalaya had to be dissolved, the familyalso broke up, but they never gave up their spiritual relationship or their assumed names.Kakasaheb went out to gain experience of different institutions, and at the time I went toShantiniketan, he happened to be there. Chintaman Shastri, belonging to the same fraternity, wasthere also. Both helped in teaching Samskrit.The Phoenix family had been assigned separate quarters at Shantiniketan. Maganlal Gandhi wasat their head, and he had made it his business to see that all the rules of the Phoenix Ashramshould be scrupulously observed. I saw that, by dint his fragrance felt in the whole ofShantiniketan.Andrews was there, and also Pearson. Amongst the Bengali teachers with whom we came infairly close contact were Jagadanandbabu, Nepalbabu, Santoshbabu, Kshitimohanbabu,Nagenbabu, Shar